Calls have been made for frontline ambulance staff to be issued with body armour after it was revealed they face the threat of violence at thousands of addresses in England.

Figures released under Freedom of Information legislation uncovered almost 7,500 addresses where ambulance staff require a police escort or are advised to exercise caution because of the potential for violence.

The true figure is certainly higher, as the details revealed relate to only 10 ambulance trusts. Some trusts said they kept registers of addresses with a risk of violence, but were unable to say how many homes were on them.

Warnings relate to people with a history of violence and aggression towards ambulance staff, addresses with dangerous animals or weapons and patients with psychiatric or alcohol-related conditions and personality disorders.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb, who obtained the figures through FOI requests, said: “It is unacceptable that such a large number of people are posing a threat to the safety of ambulance crews.


“NHS staff responding to emergencies and trying to save people’s lives should be allowed to do their jobs without fear of violence or abuse. Tough action must taken when their safety is threatened.

“Protective body armour should be made available to all frontline ambulance staff, just as it is to the police.”

The highest number of addresses causing concern was reported by the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust – covering Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire. The Trust said it was warning staff about 3,071 “addresses which require a Police presence and addresses which require extra vigilance/care when attending”.

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service said it kept a register of more than 1,900 patient addresses “where previous experience suggests there may be a risk of physical or verbal abuse”.

And South Western Ambulance Service said it had crew safety notices on 729 addresses in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset advising staff to be careful and either requiring police attendance or suggesting it should be considered.