There’s been a ‘sickening’ increase in assaults on Police Officers across Sussex since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to the county’s Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner who was speaking as Sussex Police announced that it has recorded a 39 per cent increase in assaults against officers, PCSOs and other emergency workers in April compared to the same period last year – with an increasing number linked to Covid-19.
“…coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke.”
In all, 169 offences were recorded against frontline officers and staff in the first four weeks of the lock down. These included officers being punched, kicked, bitten, spat and coughed on and threats to infect the officers and their families.
Last weekend, across Sussex, eight police officers and a PCSO reported assaults including:
- A man from Brighton who said he had Covid-19 and coughed in the officer’s face when he was arrested for possession of cocaine
- An officer who was bitten on the finger by a man fined for being out under Covid-19 legislation
- In two other incidents officers were kicked, grabbed, spat at and racially abused
Ms Shiner said: “It is absolutely sickening that police officers, staff and other emergency workers, putting themselves in harm’s way every day to help others, are being faced with violence and the threat of contamination.
“I have spoken to a number of officers over the past month and know how traumatising this is, both for the officers and their families, worried about the consequences.
“I have no doubt the vast majority of people will be equally appalled and agree that anyone putting public service workers in harms way during this crisis, or indeed at any time, deserve the harshest of sentences.”
In Sussex, 122 assaults against police officers were recorded between March 23rd and April 28th, an increase of 58 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I’m appalled that the men and women on the frontline of this crisis are being threatened with the virus that they are working so hard every day to protect us against.
“Let me be clear, coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke. It is a crime and you will face harsh consequences.
“While most people are behaving responsibly to help our emergency services, a few individuals are continuing to act selfishly. In many ways this pandemic has already brought out the very best in our communities but where it brings out the worst, offenders will be swiftly brought to justice.”
Watch our interview with Hastings Commander Chief Inspector Sarah Godley by following the link below…