Almost 60 attacks on frontline staff in Scotland every day, study shows

NHS workers suffer the most, with health staff being the victims of 31 assaults a day, according to the data.

Frontline workers across Scotland suffer almost 60 attacks every day, “appalling” figures have shown.

NHS workers suffer the most, with health staff being the victims of 31 assaults a day, according to the data.

Meanwhile, police officers experience an average 18 attacks every day, with a total of 6,657 such incidents in 2022-23.

The figures, revealed after analysis by the justice and social affairs magazine, 1919, came as it was reported how a female police officer left the force after being involved in incident which resulted in a man being jailed for 12 years for the attempted murder of one officer and assaults on two others in a knife attack.

David Threadgold, chair of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), said it had been a “extremely traumatic” incident for all concerned, adding it was a “miracle that no-one was more seriously injured”.

Mr Threadgold said: “The references in this case to one of my colleagues having to leave the service as a result of this incident show that we should never underestimate the impact on our mental, as well as our physical health.”

The SPF, which represents rank and file police, will continue to press the force to “ensure that we have adequate provision in place for all police officers who become injured doing their duty”, he added.

Mr Threadgold said: “As can be seen from this case, we occasionally deal with people who have no regard for their actions, the safety of either themselves or those they come into contact with, and we have to deal with the consequences.

“We must continue to demand the best protection we can for those doing their duty; anything less is failing those we charge with carrying out the most vital work in keeping our communities safe.”

As well as the attacks on NHS staff and police, 1919 cited Scottish Government figures showing there had been more than 500 convictions under the Protection of Workers Act – which created a specific offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing those working in retail.

Figures reveal extent of attacks on frontline emergency workers

In the 11 months to November 2023, there were 2,233 alleged incidents recorded under the legislation – the equivalent of roughly seven a day.

There were 279 assaults on prison officers in 2023, up from 178 the previous year.

Prison officers suffered an average of 0.8 assaults a day, slightly less than the 0.9 attacks on paramedics.

With rail workers the victim of 0.3 attacks a day, as well as the 0.2 attacks a day on firefighters, 1919 calculated there was an average of 58.2 attacks a day on frontline workers in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “These figures are appalling.

“My NHS colleagues are already working under challenging conditions. They do not deserve to be subjected to violent attacks at work.”

Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive, Dr Pete Cheema, said they were being “overwhelmed by the shocking rise in retail crime in recent years”.

He added: “These figures are only the tip of the iceberg, as thousands of tragic cases of shop theft, abuse and vandalism go unreported.”

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, who introduced the Protection of Workers Bill at Holyrood, stated: “These shocking figures show how many shopworkers face violence and harassment at work.

“Retail crime in Scotland is reaching crisis point and retail staff are bearing the brunt.”

Community safety minister Siobhian Brown said the Scottish Government “recognises the significant disruption and harm to businesses and individuals from retail crime”.

She added: “We recognise the vital role that retail workers play in our society and we want to ensure that they are protected.

“Workers across all sectors should be safe at work and should never have to experience abuse or violence when simply doing their job.”

Police Scotland has been contacted for comment.

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