Figures released today by the NPCC show a worrying 14 per cent spike in assaults against emergency workers, even as overall crime has fallen by a quarter since lockdown began in March.
The Police Federation of England and Wales believes assaults against blue light workers are completely unacceptable at any time but are even more appalling now, as frontline emergency services work to keep the public safe in a time of national crisis.
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."
Mr Apter added it is important to understand why the number of assaults has risen and he welcomes 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 May 10, 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.