Aberdeen’s police chief has revealed there has already been a near 20% rise in “mindless violence” against officers this year – with a month still to be taken into account.
North-east commander Chief Superintendent George Macdonald says officers and staff have been assaulted more than 380 times since last April – the first throes of lockdown.
Figures for the first 11 months of the pandemic show there were a fifth more attacks compared to the whole of 2019-20.
Ch Supt Macdonald said the “fairly significant” rise was “a real concern”.
So far this year, there have been 384 attacks, 62 more than the whole of last year and also up 15% on the average number over the last five years.
The north-east chief was expanding on reports of a 9.5% rise in police attacks across the city, Aberdeenshire and Moray in the first six months of the pandemic.
His report to Aberdeen councillors also highlighted that 22% of all hate crime in Aberdeen had been directed at his officers and staff.
Police chief: officer attacks viewed as ‘fair game’
Ch Supt Macdonald told the city public protection committee: “Violence and abuse towards police officers and staff, going about lawful duty, isn’t acceptable and we need to ensure those who think it is actually feel the force of law.
“It’s a culture or perception we need to look at and challenge as there is a perception, I think, that police are ‘fair game’, that it’s just an additional charge.
“It shouldn’t be like that and we need to see the consequences in terms of court disposal.
“We should not accept that any of our staff should be on the receiving end of mindless violence which can have a significant impact both at the time and in the short, medium and long time.”
Public protection convener, Jennifer Stewart, branded the rise “shocking”, adding: “There is absolutely no place for violence anywhere – and most certainly not against police who are there to keep us safe.”
It comes as the Scottish Police Federation last week warned there were now groups of people who “no longer intend to play by the rules”, as non-compliance with Covid laws is on the rise.
Last month, The P&J accompanied officers on a number of raids in Aberdeen as they cracked down on illegal house parties.
‘Pent up frustration, ignorance and lack of understanding’ of Covid rules partially to blame for spike in complaints
Ch Supt Macdonald’s report also showed a growing public discontent with police over the summer – as his officers were the face of the Covid restrictions.
Complaints rose by a 27% between April and September, which the area commander put down to, in some cases, “pent up frustration, lack of understanding and ignorance” at near-constantly changing advice and legal requirements.