Chief constable’s pledge to tackle assaults on police officers and staff

Police Scotland’s chief constable has pledged to reduce the impact of “disgraceful and deplorable” violence against officers and staff.

Aug 6, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone

Iain Livingstone said he is committed to introducing measures to improve their safety and provide “appropriate support to colleagues” who are victims of assaults and attacks.

The chief constable made it clear that violence against officers and staff was “utterly unacceptable” and should never be seen as simply part of the job.

And Mr Livingstone said he would not tolerate such attacks.

During the first quarter of 2020/21, figures show there were 1,775 recorded assaults on officers and staff. That is around 20 a day on average, Police Scotland said, up 7.2 per cent year on year and 22.7 per cent on the five-year average.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC and Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf have both backed the pledge announced today (August 6), which also calls on wider society and the public to support policing.

Mr Livingstone said: “As has been evident in recent weeks and months, at times of crisis, chaos and criticality, policing in Scotland brings order, discipline and compassion.

“It is, then, disgraceful and deplorable when officers and staff are subjected to violence during the course of their duties.

“I have enormous concern about assaults and attacks on police officers and staff, which are disgracefully on the increase. I utterly reject any suggestion or view that they come with the job.

“This pledge outlines my commitment to reducing the impact violence has on our officers and staff and to introducing measures to improve their safety.

“I am clear that it is the strong bond of trust and confidence forged between policing and our fellow citizens from which we obtain our authority. Your police service will always value that relationship.

“I’m grateful for the overwhelming support for policing from members of the public in recent weeks and months and I request that the same support and cooperation continues as we work together to build and maintain our collective safety and security.”

The Lord Advocate has made clear that offending against police officers will be prosecuted rigorously.

“Assaults on police officers and staff are reprehensible and Scotland’s prosecution service will take action to protect their safety,” he said.

“COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) works closely with Police Scotland to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of crime, properly addressing any criminal behaviour that threatens public safety and the safety of police officers.”

Mr Yousaf said he fully supported the chief constable’s pledge and was “deeply concerned to hear that reports of violence on officers and staff are on the increase”.

He added: “It is simply not acceptable that they should be attacked or abused while going about their daily duty. The men and women of Police Scotland are the front line in protecting communities and keeping Scotland safe.

“They are the very people who run to help others when it can be dangerous and often witness distressing scenes.

“No one should face abuse or violence while at work and the courts have extensive powers to deal robustly with those who carry out such appalling behaviour on our officers and staff.”

The pledge and guidance were developed by members of the Your Safety Matters group, the membership of which includes staff associations, unions and experts from across Police Scotland.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor, who chairs the Your Safety Matters group, said: “The trend of increasing reports of assaults on officers and staff over a number of years is a matter of significant concern. It causes physical and psychological harm to dedicated public servants and also costs the public purse through days lost to ill-health or personal injury claims.

“We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Police Federation, staff unions and our partners to support our people as they, in turn, support their fellow citizens.”

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