Emergency services staff assaulted '17 times a day'

Fire crew
Image caption Attacks on emergency crews averaged 17 per day in Scotland

Attacks on emergency service workers have reached a three-year high, according to new government 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 actual number of incidents is likely to be higher, as more serious attacks are not included.

The figures were revealed in a letter to Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr.

He said protection of emergency service workers had to be "paramount".

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.

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Kerr 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."

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.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer Lewis Ramsay said such attacks "beggar belief".

Image copyright SFRS
Image caption ACO Lewis Ramsay said attacks on emergency responders were "completely unacceptable"

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."

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