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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Officers Still Face Threat Of 'Weaponised' COVID

20 October 2021

Officers continue to face the daily threat of weaponised COVID, Iain Prideaux, Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair, told BBC Radio Bristol this week.

Iain told Steve Yabsley he had concerns about the number of attacks on police officers, despite the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which was introduced in 2018 to drive down attacks.

He said: “When officers are executing their duty they’re being punched, kicked, and I’m afraid they’re still being spat at even now. Covid hasn’t gone away. It’s a particular risk to officers and their families and to the constabulary, and I’m afraid that on a very frequent basis I’m reading in [reports in] the morning that whilst officers are trying to deal with a very wide range of incidents, not just the traditional fights in a pub or on the street, but at various incidents they are being spat at in the course of their duty.

“Of course it puts at risk other officers, it puts at risk the officers themselves and their families when they go home. So it is still being weaponised and it is still, sadly, something that officers are having to face every day.”

Avon and Somerset Police Federation have experienced a 30% increase in 999 calls since COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed in the summer, which has left officers overstretched and often answering calls alone.

Iain said: “We all know that policing is difficult, I absolutely understand that. But when you’re faced with a considerable threat on top of the normal pushes and pulls that can go in trying to arrest somebody, but you’re also being spat at and with all the risks associated with that, sadly that is an all too frequent occurrence that our officers are facing.”

Iain added: “The threat and the harm that officers face every day is a considerable one and we should be awfully grateful for the officers who run toward danger when others may run away.”