LAST week, our Chief Constable pledged his commitment to reduce the impact of violence against police and to improve the safety of police officers and staff.

He made it clear that aggressive and threatening behaviour or verbal abuse against police personnel is not part of the job.

There were over 1,775 reported assaults on officers and staff between April and June this year and this is not acceptable.

The trend of increasing assaults over a number of years is a matter of concern. Any assault on an emergency worker, no matter the circumstances is disgraceful and deplorable.

These assaults happen regularly against my officers and staff here in East Lothian and I am really pleased that the Chief Constable has made this pledge.

The majority of officers who police the streets of East Lothian live in the area. They are representative of the communities we serve. They have family and friends in the area, send their children to local schools and are committed to making the county a safe place to live, work and visit.

It is unacceptable for them to be abused and assaulted, kicked, punched and spat on; it is, as the Chief Constable says, not part of the job.

In an incident a few weeks ago in Musselburgh, one of my officer was out doing his job, keeping people safe, when he was assaulted by a group who also filmed this attack and posted it onto social media. Some of those present felt it was more appropriate that this should be video recorded than stopped. This officer, who suffered an injury, was off work injured afterwards and unable to do his job, unable to keep people and communities safe.

Those responsible have been arrested and charged but it is one of many examples I could provide that cause me considerable concern.

So far for this year, East Lothian has seen a rise of 16.7 per cent in assaults on emergency workers, which includes all emergency service staff as well as police and is completely unacceptable. I have made it clear to all staff that any violence, aggression or threatening behaviour should not be tolerated and to take robust action against those who perpetrate it.

The Lord Advocate has made it clear that offending against police will be prosecuted rigorously and this week the Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I fully support the Chief Constable’s pledge and I am deeply concerned to hear that reports of violence on officers and staff are on the increase. The men and women of Police Scotland are the frontline in protecting communities and keeping Scotland safe. They are the very people who run to help others when it can be dangerous and often witness distressing scenes. No one should face abuse or violence while at work and the courts have extensive powers to deal robustly with those who carry out such appalling behaviour on our officers and staff.”

It comforts me that this issue is being recognised on a national scale and I hope that the collective effort of all brings positive change and helps those officers and staff, who keep us safe, safe themselves.