Repeal of crowd control law has led to an increase in trouble, claims MSP

By Democrat reporter

The number of police officers injured in attacks has risen by almost a third amid heightened sectarian and other tensions.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament today that nobody should be the victim of abuse or violence while they are at work.

She said: “Attacks against our police officers are despicable and perpetrators must be dealt with in the strongest possible way.

“A wide range of powers is available to tackle such crimes, and we fully support the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in dealing robustly with perpetrators.

“The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 enables penalties of up to 12 months’ imprisonment or a £10,000 fine, or both, following convictions for offences against emergency services staff.

“We are introducing restitution orders—a new financial penalty that can oblige offenders to contribute to the cost of support services for police officers and staff who have been assaulted.”

Kenneth Gibson MSP said: “I thank the First Minister for her comprehensive reply. Does she agree that the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which was driven through this Parliament by the Opposition parties, has sent a signal that behaviour that was considered unacceptable just a couple of years ago is somehow less reprehensible?

“Will the First Minister provide an update on measures that are being taken to enable police officers to work safely and respond to attacks appropriately and effectively?”

Nicola Sturgeon told him: “I have consistently said that, in my opinion, the repeal of the 2012 act sent entirely the wrong signal.

“The Scottish Government resisted repeal, because no viable alternative was offered at the time.

“As we have clearly seen since, the issue of sectarianism at football has not gone away.

“Repealing the act rather than seeking to strengthen it took away important protections to help us to address the issue, and we now have to deal with the consequences of that.

“The tactics that are used by Police Scotland to police events and parades are an operational matter for the chief constable.

“I know that all police officers receive regular officer safety training and all public order officers receive additional training and have access to enhanced protective equipment.”

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