10 April 2020
John Apter has reacted to reports of individuals who are deliberately coughing at emergency service workers and then claiming to have Covid-19.
PFEW's National Chair, speaking to the Nick Ferrari show on LBC this morning, said he agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, that these instances are “appalling” and those involved should face prosecution.
Listeners heard footage of a shoplifter who spat at a PC in Kent at the weekend and then claimed to have coronavirus.
Mr Apter said: “These are the sort of vile, disgusting individuals that my colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis. Why this is different, is this virus is so contagious and so deadly and there is a real sense of fear out there. Those who weaponise this virus are the lowest form of life – they deserve every day they spend in prison.
“We’re seeing these individuals continuing to abuse and spit and cough at not only my colleagues but paramedics, nurses and others – its disgusting and they need to be made an example of.”
PFEW has been campaigning tirelessly to make spit guards more readily available. However, they will not prevent an initial spit or cough incident, which officers will then have to react to.
Mr Apter added: “We’re finding that some people will spit and cough and say they’ve got coronavirus, so they’re weaponizing it. The act has been done then and if they do have the virus it is highly likely they will have passed it on, so that’s why prison is the best place for these people.”
Mr Apter also discussed the frustrations of front line officers in dealing with a stubborn minority who are flouting the rules around staying at home.
He said: “When you see police officers being videoed moving people on from a beach the chances are they’ve had several hours of being challenged, in some cases abused by members of the public who don’t want to be moved on – your patience wears thin. Police officers are seeing the effects of this virus first-hand – we’re helping paramedics and people taking bodies to mortuaries.
“I’m begging the public, please listen to the guidance, support your fellow human beings, it’s about saving lives. Help us to help you.”