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West Midlands Police Federation

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Sergeant talks about reality of policing during crisis

13 May 2020

A video highlighting the fears of a West Midlands Police officer during the coronavirus pandemic has been featured on Capital FM Midlands News.

Sergeant Gareth Spreadbury talks about the ‘frightening’ reality that front-line officers are facing during the crisis as members of the public use the threat of spitting or coughing COVID-19 onto them as a weapon.

Sitting in his response car, talking to his camera, Gareth says: “Having officers shout for back-up when they are being potentially assaulted is hard at the best of times but even more so during COVID.

“When my officers were dealing with a male who was interfering with vehicles, he threated to spit at them and was telling them they would have COVID.

“There is a realistic possibility that if he spits at any of us and we catch COVID, in two weeks’ time we may go to the hospital and we may never get out. It’s frightening.”

Away from the Twitter video, Gareth added: “My job as a sergeant is looking after everyone’s safety and with COVID coming along I have to balance the needs of the public with the needs of my officers too.

“Spitting is something that we have always dealt with. I have been spat on multiple times, mainly on my feet and uniform. But with COVID, spitting is now a biological weapon. If someone else’s spit gets into our system, it could end up killing us so we have to tactically assess each situation even more than we would on a regular basis.

“People who threaten us with this want to put us on the back foot and fear for our own safety but I have to say that they are still a very small minority. I know that 99.9 per cent of the public have been fantastic and have been thanking us for what we are doing.”

Gareth’s message comes on the back of swift legislative guidance which allows courts to increase custodial sentences to those people who threaten officers with coughing and spitting.

A number of offenders have now been jailed for spitting or coughing at West Midlands officers while claiming to have COVID-19.


September 2020