Attacks on ambulance crews reach record levelsSun 27 Sep, 2009
THE number of violent yobs convicted of attacking frontline emergency workers has hit an all-time high.
Convictions and prosecutions have more than doubled since new laws to protect hospital staff were brought in four years ago.
There were 630 charges reported to the fiscal in 2008-9, up from 273 in 2005-6 when the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act was passed.
And there were 157 convictions last year - more than treble the 47 in 2005-6. Norman Provan, of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said: "Violence and aggression are completely unacceptable and there are no excuses. I encourage all nursing staff to report such incidents and their employers must also take responsibility for the safety of their staff by ensuring that these crimes are reported to the police.
"Everything must be done to deter the public from carrying out threatening or violent acts."
A spokesman for health care union Unison said: "Public service workers should not still have to face violence at their work. Police having to attend hospitals are an indication that we are not getting to grips with this problem."
Labour MSP Hugh Henry said: "It is sickening that emergency workers are subjected to violence and abuse.
"Those people who inflict violence on emergency workers should be warned that if they do so, there will be a very severe penalty."
The Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 was brought in to give the emergency services legal protection from violence at work.
The legislation makes it a specific offence to assault, obstruct or hinder an emergency worker or anyone helping such a worker in an emergency situation.
It carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail, a £5000 fine, or both.
In July, a teenager who shot a squib at firefighters called out to tackle a blaze on bonfire night last year was sent to a young offenders' institution for six months.
Greig Deans, 17, was part of a gang of 20 yobs who hurled fireworks at the crews who had arrived with police to put out the fire in Summerhill, Aberdeen.
INJURY ENDED NURSE'S CAREER
Nurse Edith Gordon, 57, had to retire early after a struggle with a patient.
She said: "My arm was wrenched. I haven't been able to get the strength back and it has ended my career.
"I didn't plan to retire until I was 62 so I have lost out on five years of wages."
The same patient earlier tried to stab Edith with a pencil but an assault charge was dropped.
Edith added: "The woman should never have been allowed back in the ward."