THE number of police officers injured while on duty has soared by nearly 20 per cent in the last year, new figures have revealed.
A total of 572 officers suffered injuries including fractures, dislocations and concussions between April 2011 and March 2012.
The rise in injuries coincided with a jump in attacks on officers during the same period, with 129 recorded assaults compared with 101 for the previous year.
The Scottish Police Federation today called the increase in injuries “an unacceptable sign of the times” amid calls for tough punishments on individuals who attack officers.
Constables bore the brunt of the injuries in the last year, with 505 affected. Many of the injuries are understood to have been sustained in accidents on duty such as falls and vehicle collisions.
Meanwhile, 82 police support staff also incurred injuries over the year, bringing the total number of force workers hurt to 654.
Jackie Muller, secretary of the Lothian and Borders branch of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Police officers parade for duty every day unaware of what they will face during the hours ahead. They have the absolute right to complete that duty and return home uninjured.
“The rise in injuries on duty is an unacceptable sign of the times.
“The courts must ensure they play their part in handing down the stiffest of penalties until the message that such behaviour will not be tolerated is recognised by the public.”
The increase comes in the wake of Scottish Government plans to make such criminals pay cash through a “restitution order” to help injured officers return to work, including supporting the Police Benevolent Fund and The Police Treatment Centres.
Exact details of injuries through assaults are not known, but one officer is said to have suffered a fracture while nearly a quarter sustained “multiple injuries”.
A total of 74 working days were lost by officers off sick due to injuries suffered in an attack this year, down from the 2011 figure of 208 days.
Councillor Iain Whyte, police board convener, said: “I’m slightly concerned that there has been a spike in injuries suffered by officers. I will bring it up with the chief constable at our meeting in January to determine whether there are any health and safety procedures that can be looked at.”
Lewis Macdonald MSP, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “It’s a real concern and shows how much we depend on officers to put their personal safety on the line.
“No-one should be subject to assault or threats while going about their jobs and police officers are no different. Anyone who assaults a police officer must be dealt with with the utmost severity.”
All accidental and non-accidental injuries are logged by the force’s human resources department.
A police spokesman said: “Our officers are often put into dangerous situations as part of their daily work and this sometimes results in them being injured themselves. Along with our colleagues in other emergency services, officers are sometimes the victim of assaults themselves as they try to do their jobs and this kind of violence will not be tolerated.”
Rank of injured officers
Special Constable 13
Support Staff 82
Type of injury suffered
by officers and police
support staff 2012 Total
Electric shock 1
Foreign body 4
Multiple injuries 78
Skin condition 4