Reports of assaults against emergency service workers in Angus have jumped in the last year, a new report has shown.
Horrified councillors heard at a meeting attacks have risen to 78 so far this year, up from 45 last year.
Councillors condemned the rising number of incidents at a scrutiny and audit committee on Tuesday.
SNP councillor Julie Bell said: “I’m absolutely appalled around violence against emergency workers.
“And I really just want to make a plea to the public to stop it.
“People should not be going to their work, in any capacity, but particularly when you’re helping citizens in our community, and end up being assaulted – it’s just abhorrent.”
The report said the majority of the assaults occurred within the Arbroath and Montrose areas, with drugs and alcohol being a significant factor in a high number of crimes.
Chief Inspector Ross Fitzgerald said: “We’ve got robust processes in place in terms of supporting those who are assaulted within the workplace.
“I guess to put it into some context we’ve seen some officers who are assaulted five, six, seven times in the course of a working year.
“Which in combination starts to really impact on people’s sense of safety.
“What I would say is we are a robust and resilient bunch, so actually the officers who face that. I’m not saying they are accepting of it, they’re not.
“However they are staunch in the face of violence and understand they are a very vital line of safety and protection for members of the public and they take those duties extremely responsibly.”
But it was stressed that Police Scotland is doing all it can to help support officers who are victims of assault.
Mr Fitzgerald added: “As an organisation, we ensure there are welfare contacts in the aftermath of these incidents, there is additional training offered if it’s required.
“And then there is positive contact from senior members of staff every time an officer is assaulted to make sure that any welfare provisions are carefully taken care of.”
Emergency workers in Angus suffering post-traumatic stress after assaults
However, it was revealed during the meeting that incidents like these have led to officers being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.
Officer Anne Smith during the meeting added: “We’ve had a number of officers with post-traumatic stress that hasn’t been apparent at the time of the incident but has come some years later.
“We have seen increases in officers who are suffering from work-related stress due to matters that have occurred many years before.”
Councillors were unanimous in their condemnation of the assaults with committee chairman Craig Fotheringham adding: “What is really sad and concerning is the very significant increase in common assaults against our emergency workers.
“The very people who put themselves at risk on a daily basis to protect help and serve us all.”
“In my view, this is 78 crimes too many, any crime is unacceptable but against emergency workers beggars belief.
“And I hope, and I think they will, the sheriffs will take a very dim view and will deal with these people accordingly.”