I was in parliament yesterday primarily to support a private members bill promoted by Hugh Henry MSP that seeks to address the unacceptably high number of assaults on public service workers. UNISON Scotland undertakes an annual survey of violent incidents in the services we represent. Last year we identified 25,000 recorded incidents in Scotland. Obviously there are many more that go unrecorded.
At present we have the Emergency Workers (S) Act 2005 that covers many of our members who provide emergency services. However, there is no similar legislation covering other workers who deal with the public. The Workers (Aggravated Offences) Bill will extend the principles of the Emergency Workers (S) Act 2005, and raise criminal penalties against those who assault workers employed in professions involving face to face contact with the public.
The Bill is already supported in principle by 40 Scottish Labour, 3 SNP and 1 Green MSP. We are now working on drafting the Bill and then organising a campaign to build parliamentary support. Whilst legislation isn’t a panacea – it is an important part of a package of measures to protect workers who serve the public.