Home   News   Article

‘Alarming’ number of calls to police by Caithness ambuance crews

By Gordon Calder

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The Scottish Ambulance Service has made hundreds of calls for police support. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
The Scottish Ambulance Service has made hundreds of calls for police support. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Police in Caithness were asked for assistance by the Scottish Ambulance Service on 342 occasions over a five year period, according to figures obtained in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

Ron Gunn, the chairman of the Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT), described the statistics as "quite high and quite alarming" while Iain Gregory, a retired senior police officer, said they were "quite concerning."

The FoI – obtained by a member of the public – shows that more than one call a week was made to local police by the ambulance service between 2019 and 2023 although no details were given about the actual incidents.

A breakdown of the figures reveals that the number of calls recorded were 59 in 2019; 113 in 2020; 60 the following year and 55 each for the years 2022 and 2023, making a total of 342.

The number for the Highlands and Islands over the same period was 10,795 with in excess of 2000 calls being made each year. In 2019 there were 2138 calls; 2012 the following year; 2208 in 2021 with 2202 the year after and 2235 last year.

Commenting on the Caithness figures, Mr Gunn said: "The police are hard pushed at the best of times and then have the added responsibility of having to deal with these fairly high number of calls for assistance from the ambulance service. Years ago there were more police to deal with these kind of things.

He said: "We do not know the exact details of what these figures relate to but a lot could be in the concern for person category. There is a lack of services for people with mental health issues and we need a lot of resources to deal with that. It is a difficult issue and there are no easy answers."

Mr Gunn claimed there could be a variety of incidents which need assistance from the police and pointed out that there has been an increase in the number of assaults on staff in the emergency services in recent times.

"It is a concern that the ambulance service is requesting assistance from the police on more than one occasion a week. That is something which was very rare a few years ago. The public may be unaware of the number of times the police are asked for assistance by the ambulance service."

Mr Gunn described the figures for the Highlands and Islands as "a huge number" although he thought many of the calls would be for help in the Inverness area.

"It is very alarming to see figures like that as the Highlands is generally regarded as a safe area. The ambulance service is very busy and the last thing they need is to have to call the police for assistance," he added.#

Mr Gregory, who is a health and roads campaigner and the secretary of Thurso Community Council, said: "The figures indicate that the police in Caithness are being asked to assist the ambulance service at more than one incident a week and that is quite concerning. We know the police attend substantial numbers of calls, many which involve mental health issues and that reinforces the case for enhancing mental health provision across the Highlands. It is vital within the NHS."

He added: "Existing staff are over-stretched so we need to increase the number of police officers in Caithness. They have been considerably reduced and it is vital we get the numbers back to the level they were 10 years ago. We need more police staff and stations to be open 24 hours a day."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More