With more offenders being jailed, magistrates and judges must continue to show that weaponising COVID-19 by spitting or coughing at police officers will not be tolerated, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) says.
During the last month, multiple people have been given prison sentences for committing this vile act - a promising step forward as offenders are usually more likely to receive just a fine.
Responding to the reports, PFEW National Chair John Apter said: “During this difficult period seeing more offenders being jailed for this disgusting and dangerous act is very welcome.
“Coughing and spitting, threatening to spread COVID-19 to my colleagues is disgraceful and completely unacceptable and we must send out a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated by our society.
“Sadly, being spat at by vile individuals is nothing new for police officers. But to weaponise it and threaten to spread a deadly virus is a new low and must be met head on by the criminal justice system. There must be a consequence, and that consequence should be prison.”
On Saturday Michael Jones, 49, was jailed for nine months (three months for each offence) for spitting at two female police officers and a security guard in Brighton.
Last month Paul Leivers, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, was jailed for 12 months after spitting at two police officers while claiming to have coronavirus.
Mr Apter continued: “This is a good start and I am glad to see magistrates and judges taking this seriously. I urge them to continue to set an example so others will follow suit.
“I want to thank Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service for his support in putting this issue under the spotlight and the Sentencing Council for enhancing the guidance for those found guilty of this type of offence.”
He added: “For far too long those who have attacked my colleagues have often walked away from court with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. An assault on any emergency worker is an assault on society.
“I care about the victims whose voices are so often ignored; for this reason, I make no apology for wanting those responsible to spend time in prison.”