ATTACKS on Lothian police officers have soared by nearly a third in the last year, and the numbers injured while making arrests also rose.
New figures showed that a total of 129 officers and police custody support officers were assaulted between last April and March, compared with 101 for the previous year.
The rise was condemned by police chiefs as “unacceptable” who said anyone who attacks an officer can “expect to be dealt with to the full extent of the law”.
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.
Jackie Muller, secretary of the Lothian and Borders branch of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “We work closely with the force to make sure that proper risk assessments are carried out and that proper protective equipment is in place, but that does not always prevent them from being assaulted by members of the public.”
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”.
The number of officers who were injured during arrests climbed from 95 to 116 over the year. Two officers suffered fractures while around 40 suffered cuts.
Assistant Chief Constable Bill Skelly said: “We regularly monitor the number of assaults on police officers, and any rise gives us cause for concern.
“We offer training and protection to all our officers to ensure they are as safe as possible. Anyone who assaults an officer can expect to be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”
The figures revealed a 17 per cent increase in injuries to officers and police staff from either assaults or accidents, increasing from 583 to 684. Officers were hurt during both in-house training and at the Scottish Police College, and in vehicle accidents. Officers and staff suffered injuries in slips and falls, with five hurt at Fettes HQ and three at St Leonards police station.
Injuries led to 1380 sick days at a cost of £150,420, a jump on the £96,465 bill for the year before.
Across the eight Scottish forces, Lothian and Borders proved the third most injury prone with 34.81 incidents for every 1000 staff, behind Grampian and Tayside.
The compensation plan announced by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is set to be part of the forthcoming Victims and Witnesses Bill.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Criminals should be made to pay for their crimes and it’s only right that victims should benefit. That’s why we are currently consulting on the introduction of a restitution order, which would see those who carry out assaults on the police pay to support their recovery.”