Experts from the NHS, Metropolitan Police Service, and Crown Prosecution Service are working together to improve the prosecution rates of criminal investigations following assaults on NHS workers.
The pilot scheme, called Operation Cavell, will help to protect health workers on the frontline. The operation will ensure senior investigators review all crimes against NHS workers and will use the experience of specialised and dedicated police investigators.
The scheme will run for an introductory period of four months for investigations of assaults on emergency workers across five boroughs, Lambeth, Southwark, Bromley, Croydon and Sutton.
Over the last three years, the number of violent attacks in health and social care was three times as high as other industries. Figures by Unison reveal that across the UK there were more than 56,000 physical assaults on NHS workers.
Michael Holland, Medical Director at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our staff should be able to come to work without fear of violence, injury, abuse or harassment. As an organisation, the safety, health and wellbeing of our colleagues is of paramount importance and I hope this valuable partnership work will help our staff feel safer and more supported.”
Simon Jackson, Local Security Management Specialist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be driving Operation Cavell which we hope will improve support for health workers on the frontline. Currently, only seven per cent of people who commit physical assaults on health workers are prosecuted. We are looking forward to working closely with our colleagues in the Met Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Chief Inspector Luke Mooney, who is leading the operation for the South Area Command Unit in collaboration with colleagues from the Central South Command Unit, said: “The Met has worked very hard recently to ensure assaults against officers are rigorously investigated and this has seen an increase in convictions. We want to bring the same support to assaults on NHS workers. We are liaising closely with the CPS and the NHS trusts concerned and together we are driving the project forward.
“Assaults on NHS staff are totally unacceptable, these are people dedicated to helping others and preventing harm. NHS workers are facing incredible challenges at the moment, they should not have to face the additional concern of abuse or assault. This operation is a way of showing these brave frontline workers that they are being supported.
“All those involved will be carefully monitoring the results and, just as importantly, seeking feedback from those affected. We want to make sure we learn the lessons, from either successes or failures, and ensure that continuous improvement is at the heart of this operation.”
Michael Mallon, CPS London South District Crown Prosecutor and lead on Operation Cavell, said: “The CPS has been very clear that disgraceful attacks on emergency workers, particularly at a time of national emergency, will not be tolerated. This important work with our NHS and police partners shows our joint commitment to protecting health workers in London, who must be able go about their critical work without threat of physical harm. No one should be in any doubt that these attacks will be met with a strong multi-agency response and the consequences will be serious.”
The Met’s Operation Hampshire has seen improvements in conviction rates for assaults on police officers. There is a 79 per cent success rate in several south London boroughs, resulting from advancements in the case management process.
These innovations, applied to investigation of assaults on police, are directly transferrable to healthcare.
The Operation Cavell pilot will address criminal investigations of assault on NHS workers across South London NHS Trusts, and will:
– Ensure all crimes are dealt with by specialised and dedicated police investigators;
– Utilise the knowledge of police investigators, who have previous experience consulting, supporting or liaising with the NHS;
– Assign senior investigators to review all assaults against the NHS;
– Monitor and assess case management performance with police and Crown Prosecution Service via regular multi-agency reviews;
– Obtain NHS ‘staff satisfaction’ ratings for each crime reported to police.