Number of police assaults in Tayside and Fife an ‘absolute disgrace’

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Police officers have been subjected to more than 600 assaults across Tayside and Fife in the lifetime of the national force

There have been 383 assaults in D division (Tayside) and 281 in P division (Fife) since the formation of Police Scotland in June 2013.

In Tayside there were 39 assaults in 2016-17, 92 in 2017-18 and 77 last year; while the figures in Fife were 45, 63 and 55 in 2018-19.

The figures have been branded “an absolute disgrace” by North East region Conservative MSP and shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr.

He said the Scottish Government’s drive to cut down on shorter jail sentences meant many such incidents would be dealt with by “a slap on the wrist”.

Mr Kerr said: “No one should go to work and fear being assaulted, especially people who put themselves in dangerous situations daily to protect us.

“They deserve society’s absolute backing.

“Most of these kinds of assaults will go absolutely unpunished. That fails our emergency services who put themselves on the line for public safety.”

Police described the assaults as a “serious matter”.

The figures were obtained through freedom of information requests through the Scottish Conservatives.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “Any assault on a police officer is a serious matter and the safety of our officers is a priority.

“Our officers find themselves dealing with dangerous situations on a daily basis to protect the people and communities we serve.

“They are trained to a high level in officer safety techniques and this helps them deal with the many situations they can become involved in which can be violent and confrontational.

“Regular liaison takes place with the Scottish Police Federation around the issue of assaults on police officers.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Attacks against our emergency services are despicable and the perpetrators must be dealt with in the strongest possible terms.

“No-one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work.

“The Emergency Workers Act enables penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both, to be imposed following conviction for offences against emergency services staff, including hindering or obstructing them.”

In response to the issue of longer sentences, the spokesman said: “The extension of the presumption against short sentences backed by parliament is crucial to ongoing work to support reintegration and rehabilitation, helping keep crime down and communities safe and last month the UK Justice Secretary announced plans to bring forward his own proposals to abolish sentences of six months and under.”

Courts will continue to be able to impose a prison term where they determine that community-centred sentences are not appropriate for a given offender.