TEHRAN (Iran News) – Assaults on police officers in the UK increased by 21 per cent during the coronavirus lockdown, according to figures, with forces reporting a “particularly distasteful trend” of spitting and coughing among offenders.
A total of 7,863 instances of assault were recorded over the first three months of lockdown, compared with 6,505 for the same period in 2019, data collected by PA show.
This comes as a recent study involving 40,000 police officers and staff showed that 88 per cent of officers said they had been assaulted during their career, with 39 per cent having been attacked in the past year, The Independent reported.
Additional figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council also demonstrated a continuing trend of increased assaults against emergency service workers.
In the most recent data released, taking a snapshot of crime for the four weeks to the 2 August 2020, forces in the UK saw a 31 per cent increase in assaults against emergency workers compared with the same period in 2019.
In the wake of the findings, the NPCC and College of Policing has pledged to overhaul officer and staff safety training.
Leicestershire Police recorded the most substantial increase in assaults, with 205 cases noted in the first three months of lockdown, up from 101 the previous year.
The next largest increase of 57 per cent was recorded by Derbyshire Constabulary, followed by South Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police each noting a rise of 55 per cent.
Met Police figures showed 2,027 assaults on officers were recorded between May and July, a 38 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2019.
Scotland Yard said the rise was partly driven by a series of high-profile protests and unlicensed music events marred by confrontations with police.
Leicestershire Police’s chief constable Simon Cole said a “particularly distasteful trend” of offenders spitting and coughing on officers and threatening to infect them with coronavirus has also developed countrywide.
He said: “The rise in assaults has huge impacts on staff both physically and mentally, and it has a huge impact on communities.
“Thousands and thousands of days of policing are lost because of these assaults.”
He added: “I think officers and staff know that they have to take risks on occasion, and they understand that, it comes with the nature of policing. But you can also see that they’re concerned.”
Some 38 offenders spat on Leicestershire Police officers in the first three months of lockdown, compared with 20 last year, and coughing entered the offence records with 10 incidents in 2020, up from zero.
Cole said police forces are working together in an attempt to safeguard their officers against assault, and all his officers have been equipped with body-worn cameras to record any incidents as court evidence.
All 43 forces will be establishing more contact time with personal safety trainers following the rise in assaults, as recommended by the NPCC.
The NPCC also wants suspects who spit at police to be forced to give a blood sample to test for disease, and also called for spit guards to be issued to all officers if supported by local risk assessments.
- source : Tasnim, Iran News