Scotland's emergency services workers assaulted 17 times a day

8 January 2018, 10:17 | Updated: 8 January 2018, 10:19

scottish ambulance service

Assaults on emergency service workers have reached a three-year high, according to official figures.

A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day.

The number of attacks is likely to be higher as this statistic does not include more serious assaults.

Common assaults on emergency service workers have risen by nearly 100 since 2015/16 when 6,414 were recorded.

However, this was a drop on the previous year when 6,480 were recorded.

The figures were revealed by the Scottish Government in a letter to Scottish Conservative Justice spokesman Liam Kerr who said protection of emergency service workers has to be "paramount".

He said: "It's extremely worrying that the number of attacks recorded by police on emergency service workers has risen to a three-year high.

"We have to get tough on those who commit these offences to make it absolutely clear it will not be tolerated.

"Many of these attacks will have occurred when a police officer, paramedic or firefighter has arrived specifically to help the very people who end up assaulting them.

"That's illogical and unacceptable, and the fact these figures may just be a fraction of the whole picture is all the more concerning.

"This is a subject I've pressed ministers on repeatedly, but I am yet to see any convincing action from them on this front."

His comment comes a day after a firefighter was treated in hospital following the crew coming "under attack" when attending a bin fire in Glasgow, leading Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer Lewis Ramsay to say such attacks "beggar belief".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Emergency Workers Act includes a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both and we have extended the act to include GPs and doctors, nurses and midwives working in the community.

"For more serious attacks other offences can be used with maximum penalties all the way up to life imprisonment.

"All workers deserve protection from abuse and violence at work.

"That is why Scotland's justice system provides for protection for all workers under our common laws of assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace.

"We fully support our police, prosecutors and courts in dealing robustly with people who offend against public facing workers."