More than a dozen emergency workers are being attacked in the north-east every week, according to new figures.
Official statistics from Police Scotland show officers, paramedics or firefighters were targeted 438 times over the course of a 243-day period this year – an average of 1.8 a day.
The figures show the number of assaults in the region between January and August 2020 and reveal a spike in the number of attacks in June, July and August.
According to the statistics which cover the police’s north-east division show 64 attacks happened in June while 65 were recorded in July.
The worst month was August, with 72 attacks on emergency workers recorded by police.
According to the figures 49 incidents were reported in January, 47 in February, 45 in March, 46 in April and 50 in May.
They also reveal there were seven Covid-related attacks on north-east police between March 24 and April 30 and another 14 instances where officers were a victim of reckless conduct involving coronavirus.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman and north-east MSP Liam Kerr described the attacks as “sickening” and “heartless”.
He said: “These figures are sickening and highlight the types of instances our emergency service workers come face-to-face with while carrying out their duties across the north-east.
“We have to get tough on the individuals who commit these heartless offences to make it absolutely clear it will not be tolerated.
“The statistics again show the consequences for these despicable attacks aren’t tough enough and the SNP Government must do more to protect emergency service workers, particularly during these challenging times caused by the pandemic.
“Many of these attacks will have occurred when a police officer, paramedic or firefighter has arrived specifically to help the very people who end up assaulting them.
“No-one should face the prospect of being abused and attacked at work.
“As bonfire night approaches, it’s vital our emergency service sector, which needs more resources from the SNP Government, feel they are safe to carry out their work on the frontline.”
Police Scotland’s chief constable Iain Livingstone said it was “disgraceful and deplorable” that anyone would target police or other emergency crew members.
He said: “As has been evident in recent weeks and months, at times of crisis, chaos and criticality, policing in Scotland brings order, discipline and compassion.
“It is, then, disgraceful and deplorable when officers and staff are subjected to violence during the course of their duties.
“I have enormous concern about assaults and attacks on police officers and staff, which are disgracefully on the increase. I utterly reject any suggestion or view that they come with the job.
“This pledge outlines my commitment to reducing the impact violence has on our officers and staff and to introducing measures to improve their safety.
“I am clear that it is the strong bond of trust and confidence forged between policing and our fellow citizens from which we obtain our authority. Your police service will always value that relationship.
“I’m grateful for the overwhelming support for policing from members of the public in recent weeks and months and I request that the same support and co-operation continues as we work together to build and maintain our collective safety and security.”
A spokesman for Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Conservatives voted against the Emergency Workers (S) Bill in 2004 when legislated for in the Scottish Parliament.
“While overall levels of violent crime have fallen significantly in Scotland over the last decade, no-one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work, and assaults on emergency workers are unacceptable.
“Scotland’s courts have extensive powers to deal robustly with perpetrators. Under the Emergency Workers Act that we extended in 2008, perpetrators face penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both. And for more serious attacks, the Crown may prosecute under common law offences such as assault, with potential penalties of up to life imprisonment.
“The police, prosecutors and courts are clear that anyone misusing fireworks or attacking emergency service workers will be dealt with robustly.”