22 May 2020
Figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) show a 14 per cent spike in assaults against emergency workers, even as overall crime has fallen by a quarter since lockdown began in March.
They are statistics that have ‘disgusted’ Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
“This is a very worrying trend at a time when our members are putting their own safety at risk by policing in such a dangerous climate,” says Tony.
“I am disgusted that a small minority of the public think it is acceptable to attack, spit on or cough in the face of our brave officers.
“It is an appalling crime at the best of times but during the coronavirus pandemic, spitting and coughing becomes an act that could be life-threatening for officers on the receiving end.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “It is no great surprise that most types of crime have dropped during the lockdown, but this is likely to rise as we see the restrictions continue to ease.
“What is extremely disappointing is to see this very significant rise in assaults on police officers - the same brave men and women who are risking their own safety to protect the public.
“Those vile individuals who deliberately cough and spit at emergency workers in an attempt to ‘weaponise’ this awful virus, deserve to face the full force of the law. I welcome the prosecutions so far, but am calling on the Home Secretary and the CPS to ensure that the sentences fit the crime - we must send a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
John said it is important to understand why the number of assaults has risen and welcomed the Home Secretary saying she will look into this.
The NPCC released provisional figures showing that police-recorded crime from all 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales fell by 25 per cent – excluding fraud, which is recorded by centrally by Action Fraud – in the four weeks to 10 May, compared to the same period last year.
Data released by the Crown Prosecution Service shows that 313 prosecutions for assaults on emergency workers were completed in the first month of lockdown. These attacks followed a typical pattern of police officers and other emergency workers being coughed at and spat on by members of the public claiming to have the virus.