The chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation Liz Groom says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by new figures showing a 14 per cent spike in assaults against emergency workers since lockdown began.
Figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) show that while overall crime has fallen by a quarter since lockdown began in March, rising numbers of attacks on police officers are causing grave concern.
“At a time when our members are on the front-line trying to keep our communities safe, it is extremely disappointing to see that more and more of them getting assaulted as they do so,” says Liz.
“Police officers are making huge sacrifices to do their job and are facing massive risks and an invisible killer as they go about their business. I still find it hard to believe that some people find it acceptable to attack, spit or cough on our members as they try to protect others. It’s disgusting.”
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 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.”
John has said it is important to understand why the number of assaults has risen and has welcomed 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 10 May, 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.