I was in Parliament this morning giving evidence on the Protection of Workers Bill. UNISON Scotland is supporting this private members Bill than will in effect extend the scope of the Emergency Workers Act to cover all public facing workers.
We don't believe that legislation is complete solution to tackling the 30,000 recorded violent incidents in Scotland last year. However, together with public awareness campaigns and effective workplace measures it has an important part to play.
The main argument against the Bill, from the Scottish Government, is that the Bill is not necessary because it duplicates the common law provisions that are working well.
However, there is absolutely no evidence that the common law is working well. The Crown Office have produced no statistics to support their assertion that they prosecute these cases or follow the guidance on aggravated offences. Our anecdotal evidence is that all too often this is plea bargained away.
Most of the incidents involving our members are at a low level that the prosecuting authorities simply don't take seriously. New legislation brings these offences into focus and by passing this Bill Parliament would send out a clear message that assaults on public service workers are not acceptable.