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MSP condemns 'appalling' emergency service worker assaults

By Alan Beresford

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POLICE have been called to more than 700 assaults on emergency service workers in the north-east, new figures have revealed.

Douglas Lumsden MSP: Emergency service assault figures "appalling".
Douglas Lumsden MSP: Emergency service assault figures "appalling".

Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Douglas Lumsden described the figures as “appalling” and “sickening” and reiterated his party’s pledge to double the maximum prison sentence for criminals who assault emergency staff.

New information released by Police Scotland show 702 attacks on emergency personal across the region in 2020/21.

Of these, 698 of those who committed the attacks were caught.

The number of assaults is a rise from the previous year when 635 occurred with 631 of these detected.

Mr Lumsden said: “It’s appalling so many emergency services workers are assaulted while serving the people of the north-east of Scotland.

“The SNP’s soft-touch approach in effectively banning short-term prison sentences has meant heartless criminals who assault these key workers are dodging jail.

“The sickening individuals committing these attacks on our hard-working emergency services should feel the full force of the law which is why the Scottish Conservatives want to double the maximum sentence for assaulting emergency services workers.

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

“The life of emergency workers shouldn’t be placed in jeopardy as they protect the public.

“These figures highlight the challenges Covid has presented for emergency workers and as callouts continue to rise over the festive period, it’s vital they have confidence in the full protection of the law.”

However, SNP MSP for Banffshire Karen Adam denied MR Lumsden's "soft touch SNP" accusations, stating that the Tories' claims "do not stand up to scrutiny".

Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen Adam.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen Adam.

She continued: “Attacks on paramedics and first responders are abhorrent.

"Emergency workers should be treated with the respect they deserve as they go out every day and risk their lives to help others.

“The Tories’ claims about our justice policies do not stand up to scrutiny. Recorded crime in Scotland remains at one of the lowest levels seen since 1974 with total recorded crime in Scotland decreasing by 22 per cent over the past 10 years and it has remained very stable since 2017-18.

“Despite Tory cuts to the Scottish Government’s core budget, Scotland’s justice system will see total investment of over £3.1 billion in 2022-23 to strengthen and reform vital front-line services.

“It includes £188 million in additional investment – a seven per cent increase – to recognise the vital role of emergency services and the justice sector during the pandemic and support their continued renewal and reform.

“Our emergency services and justice agencies have been a mainstay of the pandemic. The recent Budget recognises the role they have played, and supports their continued operation and reform while ensuring a continuing focus on the needs of victims and their families.

“The SNP has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to support the justice system and enable our communities to be safe and resilient, to reduce crime and offending and support victims and witnesses.”

The Scottish Conservatives would double the maximum jail sentence for criminals who assault our emergency workers from 12 months to two years. The policy was unveiled in a speech by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross MP MSP, last November.

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