‘Culprits must be made to pay for their actions’

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Nurses who patch up drunken yobs in A&E and health visitors who tend to alcoholics and drug addicts in the community will inevitably face some level of violence.

It is not acceptable – and should never be tolerated – but it is the reality of the often thankless work that they do.

We should, of course, be grateful they are there to pick up the pieces in such dire circumstances, but it is not our gratitude that they need – it is our protection.

There is no doubt that this is a deep-seated problem. The number of assaults reported by NHS Lothian staff has quadrupled in the last four years, probably thanks in part to greater reporting of incidents by health workers themselves.

The pressing question is how to tackle it.

The law was changed in 2005 to make it a specific offence in Scotland to assault, obstruct or hinder someone providing an emergency service.

There is some evidence to suggest that this has helped increase the number of people being prosecuted for attacking such front-line 
workers.

But a feeling persists that the full force of the law is not being brought down often enough against the 
culprits.

Taking each of them to court and giving them a tough punishment is the only way to make them see sense.

You cannot often reason with someone who thinks it is acceptable to hit a nurse or shame them into mending their ways. Making sure they fear the consequences of their actions is the only answer.

Pass marks

The anxious wait is over for thousands of Edinburgh teenagers today as their exam results are delivered through the letterbox, via 
e-mail and even by text.

The indications are that performance across the city has improved again, mirroring the national picture. We will have to wait for a more detailed breakdown to see what students have achieved in individual schools and subjects.

In the meantime, there is bound to be the usual bout of claims and counterclaims about whether our children’s academic achievements are improving or exams are being dumbed down.

Those are questions for another time and place. Today is about celebrating the hard work and skills of thousands of pupils and their 
teachers.

Well done to the 9654 students who sat exams this time round. We hope you got the results you wanted, however you received them.