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Emergency services staff assaulted 19 times a day

More than 7000 attacks were recorded on emergency workers last year, a five-year high.

999 calls: Paramedics 'sometimes asked to wait for police.'
999 calls: Paramedics 'sometimes asked to wait for police.' Police Scotland

Emergency service workers were assaulted more than 7000 times last year - the equivalent of 19 attacks per day.

A total of 7098 common assaults were recorded against emergency services staff in 2018-19, including paramedics, firefighters and police officers.

The figures are at a five-year high, up nearly 10% since 2014-15.

Fire crews were attacked six times as they dealt with hundreds of incidents on Bonfire Night at the start of the month.

In some cases, police had to accompany firefighters to incidents over safety concerns, including having stones thrown at them.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1442172-several-fire-crews-attacked-while-dealing-with-bonfires/ | default

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr obtained the latest figures in a letter from the Scottish Government.

He said: "The five-year high is absolutely shocking and extremely worrying.

"All staff deserve protection from abuse and violence at work and no one should have to experience this.

"The continuation of these types of assaults on our emergency service workers highlights more needs to be done to protect them and to reduce this figure.

"It's clear the consequences are obviously not tough enough and the rise in the number of attacks shows this."

The party highlighted further cases where paramedics answering 999 calls have been told to stay back until the police arrive for fear of aggression.

Ambulance staff in Scotland are routinely trained in managing aggression and assessing risk as part of their job

A spokesman for justice secretary Humza Yousaf: "No-one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work, and assaults on emergency workers are despicable.

"The courts have extensive powers to deal robustly with perpetrators, and we extended the Emergency Workers Act to include healthcare professionals when working in the community in 2008, meaning perpetrators face penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both.

"This Act, which was opposed by the Scottish Conservatives, is an important piece of legislation offering specific criminal law protections for our emergency services.

"For more serious attacks, offences such as assault can be used which mean offenders can face penalties up to life imprisonment.

"We continue to encourage all organisations to support staff who experience violence in the workplace including reporting incidents to the police for action to be taken."

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