Councillors in Borders back campaign against assaults on police

Councillors in the Borders are backing a campaign calling for an end to assaults on police officers in Scotland.

By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 9:23 am
Councillor Harry Scott in Galashiels.
Councillor Harry Scott in Galashiels.

A motion by Galashiels councillor Harry Scott calling on Scottish Borders Council to back a pledge made in August by Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone to tackle violence against his officers was passed unanimously at the authority’s latest full meeting.

Mr Scott, a former police chief himself based in Galashiels and later Hawick, told that meeting, held on Friday, September 25, via video-link: “Iain Livingstone has highlighted the increasing number of instances where police officers and police staff are being assaulted and subjected to insulting and abusive behaviour in the course of their duty.

“It is shocking that those who work so hard to protect us, not only in the police service but also in other emergency services and the NHS, should be subject to such vile and reprehensible behaviour.

“Many assaults on police officers this year have occurred at incidents related to the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations, where officers were coughed at or spat on or otherwise abused and assaulted.

“It is up to bodies such as ours to condemn those who commit these acts and be vocal in our support of our police service – and it is our police service.

“Unlike some other countries, Scotland is policed by the consent of the people, by civilians in uniform who live in and are part of our communities.

“In Scotland, in the first quarter of this financial year, there were 1,775 recorded assaults on police officers and staff, an increase of over 7% on the same period the year before.

“One of the most horrific incidents involved PC David Whyte, stabbed whilst responding to a knife-wielding individual in Glasgow earlier this year.

“Even here in the Borders, at the last meeting of the police, fire and rescue and safer communities board, chief superintendent John McKenzie reported there had been 19 assaults on emergency service workers, three of which were against NHS staff.”

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, another former police chief, seconded the motion, adding: “Mr Scott’s motion provides an opportunity for the council to support our chief constable and his pledge that’s also supported by the Scottish Government and the crown.

“We completely reject the increasing number of assaults and abusive behaviour being inflicted on our police officers and the emergency services.

“No police officer should go to their work in the knowledge they might be violently assaulted or indeed that they might not come home.

“We have an opportunity and we must completely endorse that this behaviour is totally unacceptable, and I am happy to second this.”