Falkirk police in danger every day

Police officers are in the frontline every day they are on duty
Police officers are in the frontline every day they are on duty
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Every 27 hours a police officer serving in Forth Valley is assaulted in the line of duty.

A stark statistic but look at the picture nationally and it is even more alarming – every 27 minutes somewhere in the UK a police officer is assaulted by a member of the public.

The lucky ones are left with bumps and bruises, but for others there are more serious consequences – particularly if they are on the receiving end of a kicking or worse, attacked with a weapon.

Then there are those who have an anxious wait, often for months, to discover if the saliva that was spat on them carried an infectious disease.

Only this week a man appeared in a Dundee court charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.

Sadly, attacks on law enforcers appear to be a fact of life in today’s world as figures given to The Falkirk Herald following a Freedom of Information enquiry revealed.

This week, the body which looks after the interest of serving officers called for courts to be tougher on perpetrators of such crimes.

David Ross, vice-chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents officers below the rank of superintendent, said plea bargaining by the accused and their legal representative often saw police assault cases never reach court.

He said; “Statistics show that a lot of assaults don’t result in a conviction. The charge often comes as the result of investigating another crime and when members are trying to affect an arrest, they are attacked. However, fiscals often accept a not guilty plea to that if they plead guilty to the other case.”

Mr Ross added that it was “a sad reflection on society” that it is acceptable for people to assault officers and others in public roles.

He said: “It is certainly something we are constantly banging our drum about. However, even if someone is convicted, it is often a fairly small fine or community payback order.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our police officers do a difficult job in very challenging circumstances, often putting themselves in danger and risking life and limb to protect the public.

“The Scottish Government condemns anyone carrying out such attacks and back the judiciary in using the full force of the law on anyone found guilty. It is also important to point out that this includes the long-standing common law assault which carries penalties all the way up to life imprisonment for those convicted.

“More widely, we have announced plans to ensure criminals contribute to the cost of supporting victims, including to the costs associated with treatment to help police officers get back to good health.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said assaults against police were taken very seriously, adding there is a “strong presumption” against accepting pleas of not guilty to such crimes.

They said: “As with all criminal proceedings, each case will be considered on its own facts and circumstances, and the decision to accept a plea of not guilty to a charge and a guilty plea to other charges will only be taken when it is in the public interest to do so.

“A plea of not guilty would not be accepted in cases where there was any injury to the officer. ”

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “Sentencing is a matter for the presiding judge, taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the case.”