The rate of officers off duty due to assault-related absences has experienced a surprising surge of more than one-third within a single year, due to a sharp increase in attacks on officers serving on the front line, according to Police Scotland.

Top figures from the force have expressed their worry about a temporary standstill in safety training and other preparations, as attempts to manage the budget are underway.

Scotland’s respected justice and social affairs magazine, 1919, has relayed concerns that the shared use of body-worn cameras for officers across the nation has faced delays. Chief Constable Jo Farrell had previously declared in the past year that the law enforcement agency would start the operation of introducing this technology during the summer season. However, the implementation might be pushed back until the year-end.

Police Scotland

Police Scotland


In addition to aiding in the de-escalation of incidents, body-worn cameras – which are a standard kit in England and Wales – fortify officer safety. A report by the force submitted to the Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) personnel committee highlighted that absences from sickness due to assault surged by 36.2% between 2022/23 and 2023/24.

During the high-demand Yuletide season, safety training courses were held back in December and January, to provide staff for frontline duties. Between 1,200 and 1,400 officers did not receive officer safety training for an entire month, inciting concerns of a build-up and increased chances of injuries.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) President Rob Hay voiced his concerns during an SPA hearing, drawing attention to the spike in assaults and related serious injuries, attributing them directly to the month-long pause in training.

According to the latest annual workforce report, there were 5,439 assaults in 2023/24 – a rise of 16.2% from 4,682 recorded in 2022/23, and a 16.8% uptick from the 4,657 assaults in 2021/22.

A contract worth £13.3 million has been handed to Motorola Solutions by Police Scotland, to supply 10,500 body-worn cameras over the span of the next three years. This act was in allegiance with a commitment made by the Scottish Government earlier.

The news magazine, 1919, reports that the process of harmonising the body-worn video camera technology with current digital capabilities is responsible for the expected delay in the system’s widespread use.

David Threadgold, Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, voiced to 1919, “No officer should be subjected to assault in their line of duty. The least expectation is for the employees to be suitably trained to handle such situations. Without a shred of doubt, when body-worn cameras are finally put into circulation, we will witness a decrease in assaults and officer absences.”

A representative of the Scottish Government expressed, ”The Chief Constable has published her plans for the organised introduction of body-worn video as a priority for Police Scotland, and we have welcomed the recent announcement that the contract to implement it has been awarded.

“The Chief Constable provided an update to the SPA board on 27 June indicating the intricacy of the project while pledging to work briskly with Motorola Solutions to embed it effectively for frontline officers and staff as soon as possible. She committed to sharing further details on the rollout with the SPA board as progress is made.”

Chief Constable Jo Farrell echoed similar sentiments to the Scottish Police Authority, “In partnership with Motorola Solutions, we are putting in tireless efforts to embed body-worn video for frontline officers and staff as soon as viable, and will persist with sharing updates as progress is made.”