Murdo has said he is “very alarmed” at shocking figures showing that there have been more than 2,000 physical assaults on Fife Council staff in two years.
He was reacting to data provided to the party from Fife Council through Freedom of Information on the number of physical and verbal assaults on their staff in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years. The figures show that assaults took place on council staff working in 16 different departments, but the education department had by far the highest incidence for both physical and verbal assaults over both financial years – totalling 1,611 physical assaults and 361 verbal assaults during this period.
Even more concerning is the fact that the number of physical assaults on council education staff more than doubled from 528 in 2020/21 to 1,083 in 2021/22. The statistics also reveal that the overall total number of physical assaults on Fife council workers in the 16 departments listed increased from 728 to 1,298 from 2020/21 to 2021/22, and the number of verbal assaults rose from 201 to 389 in this time.
The total number of physical assaults on Fife Council staff over the two financial periods amounted to 2,026.
Fife Council have said ‘there is not a crime in Scottish law of verbal assault,’ and stressed that whether physical contact is deemed an assault, or not, is ‘not for Fife Council to say.’ They state: ‘Where someone strikes, attempts to strike but misses, or threatens to strike a member of staff, with or without a weapon, Fife Council classifies that as a physical incident.’
Commenting, Murdo Fraser MSP said: “These figures for assaults on Fife Council staff are diabolical and I find them very alarming. Local authority staff are doing their job, which often involves trying to help the public, so to be subjected to either physical or verbal assault while carrying out their duties is disgraceful. The people who handed out physical or verbal assaults should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
“It is notable that the highest number of assaults took place on Fife Council staff who work in their education department. It is very concerning to see the amount of physical assaults on education staff more than double in just two years.
“I’m sure Fife Council will be addressing these figures on assaults on their staff as no one should have to suffer either physical or verbal assault while doing their job.”