Officers are wary of increased spit attacks in the coronavirus pandemic


Police officers

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Police chiefs said coughing or spitting on rescuers was “deplorable” during the coronavirus pandemic

Spitting attacks on police could be the source of a national attack on emergency workers during the lockout, officials said.

National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) figures for England and Wales showed a 14% increase in attacks in a month compared to last year.

One officer said the assaults made the colleagues “very suspicious” on patrol.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had “acted quickly” to bring the cases to justice.

The figures for the 43 territorial forces in England and Wales are a snapshot of attacks on rescuers in the four weeks before May 10, compared to the same period last year.

The NPCC said the increase was likely due to an increase in attacks where suspects spat on police “while claiming to be infected with Covid-19”.

More than 300 people were charged with assaults against coronaviruses in April, “the vast majority of which” resulted in a conviction, said the CPS.

According to the NPCC, the forces had full access to coronavirus testing facilities and had low absence figures for officers and personnel across the United Kingdom.

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Nottingham Police


PC Anthony Brice said he was not surprised by the increase in attacks on emergency workers

Nottinghamshire police officer Anthony Brice detained a man in Worksop when he spit on him and his colleague.

Brice later tested negative for Covid-19, but said before the results that he and his family were “incredibly worried.”

He said the possibility of such attacks made officers on patrol during the pandemic “very suspicious”.

“It’s still in your mind,” he said. “Especially when there is a public order incident where you have to get your hands on the public. “

Brice added that he was “not surprised” by the national increase in attacks, due to “lockdown frustrations” for many.

“Normally, we have the bulk of everything, people don’t like being told what to do,” he said.

Daniel Hagerty, 32, of Edinburgh Walk, Worksop, was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison after the assault.

Brice said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the outcome, having been victimized in the past, which did not result in a prison sentence.

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Media captionPC Annie Napier suffered no ill effects after a man spat blood into his eyes in Coventry

Several forces across England have published figures on attacks on officers or rescuers during the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Thames Valley Police said that between March and April, 198 police officers were attacked, 58 of whom were all hit, spat or bitten
  • In Kent, police reported 196 attacks on police in March and April, almost double the number of spitting incidents compared to last year
  • Cleveland Police reported 81 assaults on officers and staff between March 30 and May 13
  • Nottinghamshire Police said there were 61 reported cases of coughing or spitting of key workers between March 20 and April 27, and another 28 reported until May 18
  • Officers at Lincolnshire Police According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, 36 assaults were inflicted, including threats to infect staff with a coronavirus in the four weeks before April 24.
  • On a weekend in March, Avon and Somerset Police reports six police officers were “bitten, spat or coughed in the face” saying they had Covid-19

These attacks were condemned by senior police officers.

Thames Valley Police Chief John Campbell said, “Spitting, coughing or biting an emergency service officer or worker is despicable at all times, but in the current situation with coronavirus, it is still more deplorable. “

He added that any officer attacked was supported by a “comprehensive social support plan”.

The force said that all officers had access to PPE and additional protection, such as spit guards.

“Dreadful conduct”

Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Steve Graham said the “harmful assaults” had shaken the morale of those working on the front lines.

“Like people living in our communities, our staff have to deal with the personal impact of Covid-19, and although assaults at any time are unacceptable, increasing them during this uncertain period affects their well-being,” said he declared.

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley of the Kent Police said: “Fortunately, we are now seeing these people go to jail, where I think they should be. “

Max Hill, Director of Public Prosecutions at CPS, said: “We have identified particularly appalling behavior towards rescuers … and we have, I think, very quickly worked in partnership with the police to bring these cases to justice. . ”

Reporting Team: Rob England and the Local Democracy Reporting Service


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