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Police lose 3000 working days due to assaults on officers

More than 3000 working days have been lost over the last three years because of assaults on Scottish police officers and staff, according to new figures.

In one area, Strathclyde, attacks on police personnel in 2010-12 cost the force more than £263,000.

The Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures under freedom of information, described the findings as a "national shame".

The responses reveal that there were at least 2720 working days lost across Scotland as a result of injuries caused by assaults on police officers in 2010, 2011 and most of 2012. Figures were not available for Fife Constabulary this year or Lothian and Borders Police in 2010.

Of the overall total, 1342 days were lost in 2011. Some 709 days were lost the previous year and at least 669 working days have been lost this year.

Strathclyde Police, Scotland's largest force, recorded the highest number of days lost over the three-year period, although their figures have been going down each year. The force said 551 days were lost in 2010, dropping to 437 the following year and 339 this year.

Other forces recording a gradual decline were Dumfries and Galloway, down from 11 in 2010 to two this year, and Grampian, down from a 2010 high of 99 to 28 in 2012.

Lothian and Borders Police recorded that 74 working days were lost this year, down from 208 last year, and Tayside recorded a drop from 462 lost days in 2011 to 112 this year. By contrast, the Central Scotland force noted that 100 working days were lost this year, up from five last year and one in 2010.

Fife recorded a high of 143 last year, up from nine the previous year. Northern Constabulary remained relatively constant, with 11 days lost last year and 14 days lost in 2012.

Separate figures show that overall across Scotland a further 287 days were lost due to attacks on police staff over the last three years. The figure takes the number of days lost for officers and staff to at least 3007.

The vast majority of lost days due to attacks on staff occurred in the Strathclyde area in 2010, which accounted for 266 of the 287.

Alison McInnes MSP, the Scottish Liberal Democrats' justice spokeswoman, said the figures revealed the knock-on effect of violence waged against police.

"It is harrowing to know that our police force has to deal with violent assaults in their day-to-day work," she said. "Our figures show that this has a devastating knock-on effect on the performance of our police forces.

"Every working day lost due to injury from assault is a day lost protecting our communities and keeping our streets safe."

She went on: "Those who commit the disgraceful act of attacking our police forces are not just upsetting the lives of police officers and their families – they are hampering the abilities of police forces to serve communities effectively.

"We already know that police forces face falling budgets and will have to manage their resources more effectively when the single force comes into operation.

"People are extremely proud of Scotland's police forces. Many will agree that these figures are a national shame which must not be allowed to pass unchallenged."

The figures for 2012 were accurate to December 4 this year.

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