999 calls to courts top 2,000 in under three years

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Police are called out to 999 calls at Scottish courts dozens of times each month, new figures indicate.

Courts across Scotland have made more than 2,200 emergency calls to the police in the past three years.

Figures obtained through Freedom of Information show the call outs have been falling year on year, with 885 calls in 2016, 823 last year and 520 in the first 10 months of 2018.

A variety of crimes were reported, including 162 reports of drug-taking and 138 assaults.

That statistics included reports of an “animals” related incident in Ayr in 2016; a public demonstration in Dumbarton, a person consuming alcohol in a courtroom in Glasgow and a 999 call in relations to weather at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

A number of the 999 alerts were false call outs and the figures cover incidents in the vicinity of court premises.

The Scottish Conservatives, who obtained the figures, believe the true figures of 999 call outs to courts is likely to be higher as data was not available for all sheriff courts.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “This just shows the kind of pressure our sheriff courts system is under.

“They are constantly being asked to do more with less, and now it emerges these facilities are at the centre of hundreds of 999 calls each year.”

He added: “The vast majority of these aren’t minor incidents, and put the safety of those in the court building at risk.”

He said the statistics underline the need for adequate resources for both the police force and courts service.

A Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) spokeswoman said: “The SCTS and Police Scotland work closely together to ensure public order is maintained within court buildings and if SCTS staff required a police intervention they would request assistance from police officers who were already in the court building to ensure public order or in attendance to give evidence. Court buildings are attended by numerous people daily.

“Our court data show the system is performing well. The number of trials scheduled and adjournments for lack of court time are down which are good indicators of overall performance.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said court performance is improving.

“Police Scotland will respond to calls, particularly if there is a safety concern in a public building,” he said.

“We have provided additional resources to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to address the extra demand created by the increased reporting and prosecution of certain categories of crime.”

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