Despite BBC/Tory stories, serious attacks on Scottish emergency workers fell by 35% in only 5 years


Based on a ‘letter’ to a Tory MSP!

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request published today, TuS can reveal a much-welcomed and dramatic fall in attacks on emergency workers, in line with overall crime reduction in Scotland after more than a decade of SNP-rule. See:


This makes you really wonder where Tory MSP Liam Kerr got his ‘letter’ from in 2018:

‘A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day. The actual number of incidents is likely to be higher, as more serious attacks are not included. The figures were revealed in a letter to Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr.’

Good journalism is based on reliable sources. As often before BBC Scotland seem not to have seen their own editorial guidelines:


We should try to witness events and gather information first-hand.  Where this is not possible, we should talk to first -hand sources and, where necessary, corroborate their evidence.  We should be reluctant to rely on a single source.  If we do rely on a single source, a named on-the-record source is always preferable.


3 thoughts on “Despite BBC/Tory stories, serious attacks on Scottish emergency workers fell by 35% in only 5 years

  1. Hugh Wallace May 15, 2019 / 9:52 am

    Just to add a bit of context to assaults on emergency service workers, though my comments are purely anecdotal and n=1 so shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

    I was a police officer for 4 years and got ‘assaulted’ twice. By that I mean I charged someone with police assault twice; once for kicking me in the shin so lightly that I actually wasn’t sure I had felt it and once for taking a wild swing at me that missed by a mile. Partly that was because I got lucky but partly it was because of the way I dealt with people. Of course, I had a lot more ‘roll-arounds’ with people weren’t happy being arrested but resisting arrest and assaulting an officer are not the same (generally speaking). Now, as an ambulance worker, I’ve yet to be even threatened with assault and I’m not actually aware of any colleagues who have been to the point that anyone talks about it (these things generally are in our world).

    All of that said, emergency workers – especially police – do face the risk of considerable violence on a daily basis and all too often the courts don’t crack down on it in the way they should (police assault charges are often ‘plea bargained’ away and one cop I know got punched 8 times in the face and the offender got 80 hours community service for it). Some colleagues have been very seriously hurt – to the detriment of their long-term mental and physical health – but the reality is that the most dangerous part of an emergency service workers’ day is driving home after a night shift (apart from our friends in the fire service who have slept all night – sorry, couldn’t resist! 😀 ).

    But this narrative that our emergency service workers are under serious threat from our neighbours in the community is one that fosters the idea that our society is a lot less civil and decent than it really is. The reality is that, for the most part, we all rub along quite happily and safely together.

    [NB, I first read the term ‘neighbours’ used to describe ‘members of the public’ on the Twitter feed of a New York cop. At first it confused me because ‘neighbour’ is the term cops in some parts of Scotland use to describe their work partner but once I clicked I thought it was a brilliant term. We, in the emergency services, serve our neighbours in our neighbourhoods. All of Scotland is one big neighbourhood when you think about it so we, who live here, must all be neighbours. Just that one word can change the way a police officer views a member of the public and how that person views the police officer.]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald May 16, 2019 / 2:15 pm

      Hugh Wallace,

      Thanks for this.

      I agree with you that the use of the word ‘neighbour’ is very important. I think its use does help create a bond of community solidarity. When I was working I encountered community police officers several times a week and I was almost always impressed by their humanity and by the way in which they interacted with the public and were able to establish pretty good relationships, especially with adolescent and young men, who are often the ones most prone to their behaviour getting out of hand.

      When I was younger, the word ‘nee’bur’ was quite common parlance amongst people in the street and in workplaces and was often used to address people with whom one was not acquainted – it was offering the hand of friendship and indicating an absence of malice. Of course such a word used in such an inclusive way is not new. I recall that the famous Galileean on 2000 years ago used it as a prompt for his Good Samaritan story.


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