Violence Prevention & Reduction (VPR)

Preventing and reducing violence against ambulance staff


NHS England has commissioned AACE to deliver a new Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub specifically designed for NHS ambulance services.

The new Hub is managed on a full-time basis by AACE’s National Ambulance Violence Prevention and Reduction Operational Lead Adam Hopper, with support from National Ambulance Violence Prevention and Reduction Support Officer Clare Barnham, both of whom are employed from NHS ambulance trusts.

The AACE Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub is currently funded until March 2025 and has already commenced a series of workstreams to support the ambulance sector’s efforts to improve staff safety against a backdrop of a worrying increase in all types of violence, assault and aggression being experienced by NHS ambulance staff.

These assaults include kicking, slapping, head-butting and verbal abuse, and range from common assault to serious attacks involving knives, guns and other weapons.

In one incident alone, two paramedics were stabbed so seriously during a routine welfare check on a patient that their attacker was given a nine-year prison sentence.


Incidences on the increase

Every day during the 2020/21 financial year a staggering 12,000 ambulance staff experienced abusive, violent and disruptive behaviour from people they were trying to help, or those patients’ friends and families.

This is more than one person every hour of every day being abused or attacked for simply trying to do their job.

This represents an increase of around 4,500 reported incidents of abuse or aggression directed towards NHS ambulance staff over the past five years.


Combating the violence

The AACE Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub acts as a central resource unit for all UK ambulance services where they can:

  • DATA & INFORMATION: Share best practice, expertise and information about all aspects of violence prevention and reduction across the ambulance sector.
  • EDUCATION: Promote new and innovative ways to extend skills and knowledge across the sector to help combat the challenges of violence and abuse.
  • COLLABORATION: Facilitate a culture of collaborative working through several key workstreams assisting and supporting the ambulance sector, providing a consistent process when managing violence and aggression.

Central, consistent support

The AACE Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub is there to support local violence prevention and reduction teams based within each ambulance service. This is done by:

  • Assimilation, coordination and consistency when applying the NHS England Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard by designing a bespoke guidance document specifically focused on the ambulance service.
  • Developing a process for reviewing resources, systems and processes held within each ambulance service’s violence prevention and reduction team to share learning and evidence based best practice.
  • Reviewing and supporting the creation of a national ambulance data set for incidences of violence, assault and aggression.

Education and training

The AACE Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub is also responsible for the following initiatives:

  • A bespoke, evidence-based, best-practice training program is being designed and developed with subject matter experts to support the national education network for ambulance services in delivering staff and patient safety training.
  • Supporting NHS England colleagues in the design, delivery and evaluation of violence prevention and reduction education programs for the ambulance service.

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Learn more about the VPR’s #WorkWithoutFear campaign here.

For any further information, please contact the AACE Violence Prevention and Reduction Hub via adam.hopper@aace.org.uk or clare.barnham@aace.org.uk