Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has called for offenders who attack police officers and other emergency service personnel to feel the full weight of the law.
Her comments come as new figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) show a staggering 29 per cent increase in assaults on emergency services workers in the four weeks to 30 August compared to the same period in 2019.
A report by 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.”
Liz commented: “Any attack on an emergency worker is unacceptable but to see a 29 per cent increase during the pandemic – at a time when we need them the most – is sickening.
“Our members have been on the front-line throughout this pandemic, protecting the public and the NHS, and to see Covid-19 potentially being weaponised against them is appalling.
“I hope that these thugs feel the full weight of the law to send out the message that this cannot go on.”
The NPCC figures show that crime trends have returned close to pre-lockdown levels. After a 28 per cent reduction at the height of lockdown, police recorded crime is three per cent lower than in the same period in 2019.
Mental health incidents were up five per cent in this reporting period, the NPCC said, reported rape saw a four per cent rise and domestic abuse incidents increased by seven per cent.
The national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: “The recent return to pre-Covid crime levels comes as no surprise, as during lockdown there were fewer people out and therefore less opportunities to commit crime.
“Regrettably, I am not surprised either to see the rise in the number of call-outs for mental health incidents. This has been steadily increasing year on year and the police are often seen as the first port of call when people need help.
“My colleagues will continue to do their job to the best of their ability but, as I have said many times before, there is no magic box of extra officers waiting to be opened and undoubtedly policing will struggle with this increased demand.”