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Thugs Condemned By Newcastle Fire Chief After ‘Petrol Bomb’ Attacks On Firefighters And Police Officers

Police and senior firefighters have condemned the actions of a group of people who attacked firefighters, damaged fire engines, and assaulted police officers who responded to a call for help from Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

During the incident, firefighters were barricaded in an area where a car was intentionally set ablaze before ‘petrol bombs’ were thrown at them. Their exit had been purposefully blocked by the cowardly thugs who had placed sandbags on the road.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service contacted Northumbria Police at around 18:40 hours on Saturday, requesting assistance while dealing with a rubbish fire on West Denton Way.

The fire department had been drawn to the area by false reports of a car on fire. It was, in fact, a bin that had caught fire.

While the firefighters were on the scene, they reported that five people had gathered around them and started throwing glass bottles and rubble, with an appliance being damaged.

Firefighters on the scene also reported receiving petrol bombs after being barricaded near where a member of the public’s car had been set on fire. Thankfully, the petrol bombs did not explode.

Officers from Northumbria Police’s response team arrived on the scene immediately and began investigating.

The group of young people returned shortly after the officers arrived and began throwing missiles at the officers and their vehicles, causing two police cars to be damaged.

Officers were also made aware of people throwing items from the West Denton Way footbridge.

As the officers approached and attempted to detain them, one of them was assaulted before the group fled the scene.

The officer was treated for a head injury and is now recovering at home.

Three vehicles owned by members of the general public were also damaged.

An investigation has been launched, and a 16-year-old male has been arrested in connection with the incident. He was later released on bail.

Chris Lowther, Chief Fire Officer, stated:

“The attacks on our crews were among the worst I’ve seen in my 26 years as a firefighter.

“This was a planned and coordinated assault on emergency workers who were responding to an incident with only one thing in mind, the safety of our communities.

“Our firefighters already put themselves in dangerous situations without being subjected to verbal and physical abuse, including being showered with dangerous missiles.

“They are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. They are people with families. They are not anonymous uniformed faces.

“We are committed to working with the police to identify those involved in these mindless attacks on the emergency services, but we need the support of our communities.

“If you know those responsible, and choose not to come forward, then you are condoning attacks on the very people who are there in your hour of greatest need.

“This is the latest in a series of attacks that must be stopped right away. A line has been crossed, and those responsible must be held accountable.”

Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service said in a statement:

‘Around 6.30 p.m., we received a call about a suspected car on fire in a cul-de-sac, but when our crews arrived, they were subjected to horrendous abuse,’ said the police.

‘In fact, it was a small rubbish fire near Hill Top House that was started by the group to attract our firefighters to the scene.

They were verbally abused before glass bottles filled with liquid and stuffed with rags were thrown at the crews.

‘Fortunately, they missed them and did not ignite, but other glass bottles narrowly missed our firefighters and smashed inside our vehicle, leaving shards of glass across the seats.

‘Those responsible even attempted to block our exit from the street with sandbags, and we were only able to escape thanks to the assistance of a resident in removing the bags.

‘Despite the fact that no of our firefighters were injured, the impact of these types of attacks on appliances cannot be overstated. It’s revolting.

‘Chief Fire Officer Lowther has established an exclusion zone in West Denton, which means we will only respond to secondary fires with a police escort and full risk assessment.

‘We will still respond to fires where lives or property are at risk,’ he says, adding that the action, which was last used in the Meadowell riots in the 1990s, is not taken lightly.

Northumbria Police Area Commander for Newcastle and Gateshead, Chief Supt Helena Barron, condemned the behaviour and asked the public for help in bringing those responsible to justice.

“This is absolutely abhorrent behaviour that will not be tolerated – acts of violence against emergency service workers are completely unacceptable and completely senseless,” she said.

“We wish the officer who was injured a complete and speedy recovery.

“We have launched an investigation and have been busy carrying out door-to-door and CCTV enquiries, as well as deploying extra officers in the area to carry out patrols.

“We recognise this is a small minority of individuals and welcome the overwhelming support we receive from our communities.

“We would ask that you continue to work with us, and we urge anyone who may have information about what happened to get in touch. Any detail, no matter how minor, could be extremely beneficial.

“Anyone found to have been involved will face justice.”

Members of the public who were in the area at the time or earlier in the day and saw groups of young people are also being asked to come forward by Northumbria Police, as they may have information relevant to the investigation.

Drivers are being asked to review their dash-cam footage, and homeowners to review any CCTV or doorbell cameras, as this may help identify those responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101 or use their website’s ‘Tell us Something’ page, quoting reference NP-20220114-0811.

You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously at 0800 555 111.

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