Rise in police assaults in Edinburgh and Lothians prompt taser call
INJURIES suffered by police officers while on duty in the Lothians are at the highest rate for five years, figures obtained by the Evening News reveal.
Statistics from Police Scotland show there were 515 wounds reported over the last year compared to 451 in 2014-15.
The number included assaults prompting the Scottish Police Federation, which represents the rank and file, to call for all officers to be armed with tasers.
“Police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect others, this unique circumstance should be recognised in the legal system and treated as an aggravation,” said SPF east are committee chair, Andrew Malcolm.
“Protective equipment needs to be reviewed and requires investment, TASER should be issued as standard.”
Figures obtained from the force under freedom of information laws show there were 242 injuries to police officers last year in E division which covers Edinburgh.
These were the result of 100 assaults, including one involving a special constable, and 142 non-violent injuries.
In J division, which includes Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian, there were 273 injuries to officers last year.
These were the consequence of 131 assaults, including two relating to a special constable, and 142 non-violent injuries.
Mr Malcolm added: “Absences through assaults is increasing, each one is one less officer in our communities and they are thin enough on the ground.
“This needs to be recognised in the legal system - there is a huge personal, community and financial impact caused by these assaults.
“Those who assault officers should be kept in custody on every occasion.
“It’s hard to believe that when assaults are increasing and officer safety is a concern we are talking about cutting numbers because we don’t have enough money, we should be policing to need not budget - cuts have consequences.
“Over the last few years budgets have been cut, officer numbers are being cut and assaults are going up, I wonder why?”
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has expressed “openness” to the roll-out of tasers in the past, providing communities are supportive.
Fiona Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, said: “Our officers find themselves dealing with dangerous situations on a daily basis to protect the people and communities we serve and are trained to a high level to deal with violent and confrontational situations.
“Being assaulted is not simply part of the job.
“No assault on a police officer can ever be tolerated and we have a legal and moral duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our people.
“Each assault will be investigated with the same care, compassion and commitment as an assault on a member of the public and the best evidence secured to support prosecution.
“We are considering new ways, including taking learning from elsewhere in the UK, to ensure we provide the best support to our people.”