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19 February 2003

Violent attacks on all public service workers must be stopped

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, welcomed the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill being put forward by Paul Martin MSP on Wednesday 19 Feb when the Bill is debated in Parliament.

The amendment creates a new offence of assault on an emergency service worker - in particular firefighters and emergency medical teams. UNISON supports this but thinks it should be extended to cover all public service workers attacked in the course of their work.

"A positive step forward like Paul Martin's amendment should be supported by MSPs." Said Matt Smith UNISON's Scottish Secretary. "But, vital though protection for our firefighters and ambulance crews is, violent attacks are increasingly suffered by many other public service workers during their work.

And violence is on the increase, in certain sectors we are talking a 100-200% rise in assaults. As well as firefighters and ambulance workers, social care staff, accident an emergency unit staff, traffic wardens and many others are experiencing serious assaults at the hands of their customers or clients.

"All these workers are working - often unsocial hours, and in poor conditions, to deliver all our services. We have a moral obligation to give them the best protection we can." Matt Smith said.

Paul Martin MSP's amendment will be debated by the Scottish Parliament during the Stage 3 debate on the Criminal Justice Bill.


[UNISON has produced a briefing on its policy on the amendment which will be available on their website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/cjamend.html]

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser Policy&Info) 0845 355 0845(w) 07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)