Chair shocked by rise in assaults on emergency service workers

11 January 2021

Thugs who threaten to weaponise Covid-19 by coughing and spitting at emergency services workers should feel the full weight of the law, says the chair of Gwent Police Federation.

Steve Thorpe says the courts need to send the message that such attacks will not be tolerated.

He was speaking after the release of new figures by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which show a 10 per cent rise in assaults on emergency services personnel during November compared to the same period in 2019.

The NPCC said: “It is thought the rise may be driven by increases in common assaults on police constables, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.”

Steve said: “These figures are shocking he said. The fact that our friends and colleagues are being attacked just for doing their job is appalling but then to try to weaponise this deadly pandemic against them is truly sickening.

“Emergency services staff are doing a fantastic job and deserve the utmost respect for the way they’ve protected the public throughout this pandemic.

“They’re only human, and to be attacked in this way threatens their health and that of their loved ones. We need the criminal justice system to ensure that where these types of offences are committed, the offenders receive the toughest possible sentences.

“We need to send out the message that we will not stand for it.”

Steve’s comments have been backed by John Apter, the national Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

He said: “I’m disgusted to see this appalling increase as Covid-19 continues to spread. These figures will include many police officers being spat at and coughed at by vile individuals who weaponise the virus, which threatens their health and that of their families.

“It’s disgustingly offensive that 999 workers, who are working so hard to protect the public throughout this crisis, are being attacked and assaulted in this way.

“People need to remember that these emergency workers are mums and dads, and sons and daughters who have families to go home to at the end of a shift.

“Those who commit these despicable offences must be harshly dealt with by the courts and face the full force of the law.

“PFEW will continue our campaign to increase sentences against those who assault us through our ‘Protect The Protectors’ campaign.

“It is vital to ensure courts issue tougher sentences to those who assault emergency service workers. If you assault a police officer you should expect to spend time in prison, no ifs, no buts.”

Other findings in the NPCC figures include:

  • Serious violent crime, including grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and personal robbery reduced by 20 per cent
  • Shoplifting was down 32 per cent
  • Vehicle crime fell by 22 per cent
  • Residential burglary was down by 23 per cent
  • In total, 32,329 fixed penalty notices have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales under Coronavirus Regulations between Friday 27 March and Monday 21 December 2020.