THERE were 31 assaults on police linked to coronavirus during 2020-21 in Argyll and West Dunbartonshire, new figures have revealed.

In total, there were 1,087 assaults on officers and staff in a coronavirus related context during the same period, analysis by Police Scotland suggests.

The figure contributed to a total of 6,942 recorded assaults on officers and staff, 413 more than the year before, an increase of 6.3 per cent year on year.

Reported assaults are also up 18 per cent on the five year average, continuing a long-term trend of increasing assaults against police officers and support staff.

Deputy Chief Constable for people and professionalism, Fiona Taylor, said: “Officers and staff stepped forward to help combat the spread of the virus, conducting in excess of 120,000 interactions with members of the public to explain rapidly changing guidance, encourage everyone to do the right thing and enforce the law where required.

“I am grateful to the vast majority of people who responded with remarkable co-operation and support for their police service.

“Officers and staff work with dedication and a commitment to helping people and violence and abuse against them is utterly deplorable and unacceptable.

“It is not simply part of the job and will not be tolerated.”

During the last year, Police Scotland has established an enhanced Operational Safety Training programme which increases the annual refresher course from one day to two days and introduces new techniques and de-escalation tactics.

New guidance for officers and staff has also been published to support better reporting of health and safety incidents and assaults.

DCC Taylor said: “Tackling the concerning trend of increasing assaults on officers and staff is a priority for Police Scotland.

“It causes physical and psychological harm to dedicated public servants.

“There is also a cost to the public purse through days lost to ill-health or personal injury claims.

“We will continue to work to better understand how we prevent violence and abuse against officers and staff, what impact it has on our colleagues, and how we can better support them to do their job.”