HAMPSHIRE Police Federation is reporting a rise in the number of police officers being spat at during the coronavirus crisis.
The disgusting assaults have appalled Federation Chairman Alex Charge, who wants perpetrators to receive prison sentences for the assaults.
Alex said: “We’ve had an increase in spitting assaults. It is just so disgraceful that in this climate where police officers are out trying to protect the public, people are spitting at them and threatening to spit at them and give them and potentially their families COVID-19.
“It’s disgusting, and we are very keen that where people are convicted of those assaults that the criminal justice system works and those people go to prison.
“They need to be made an example of by the criminal justice system, it’s that simple. If they don’t go to prison, it’s not acceptable.”
Two recent offenders elsewhere in the country have received jail time for spitting at emergency service workers, and Alex hopes the CPS and Home Office will shortly agree on recommended sentencing.
He said: “I know nationally the CPS and the Home Office are working around seeking to get those sort of sentences handed out.
“It’s very heartening that the two I’m aware of resulted in prison sentences for offenders. That’s what we want to see. That gives a clear message to people who think they might spit or threaten to spit at police officers, and that’s what we’d expect from the criminal justice system; to look after us.
“They’ve got family at home, they’ve got friends, they’ve got relatives, and they don’t want to catch COVID-19 while at work and bring it back into their families.
“We have had some cases of coronavirus. We’ve got quite a number isolating, and the force has been very good in terms of freeing up people who have got family in high-risk groups.
“The force has some advanced plans about people’s welfare and keeping people safe the best they can.”
Hampshire Police Federation’s Vice-Chair Zoë Wakefield added: “It’s disgusting. It shouldn’t be tolerated at all. Spitting has always been an issue for police officers – before this, heroin addicts and people who knew they were infected with hepatitis have used it as a weapon. People should be dealt with; the courts should deal with them as robustly as they can.”
Another major headache across the emergency services sector has been the supply of personal protective equipment. But with 18,000 masks now being made available for Hampshire frontline officers, Alex is confident the force is as prepared as it can be.
He said: “I think like a lot of forces there has been the issue of supply of PPE; however, we’ve had 18,000 masks turn up, and they’ve been rolled out to the frontline.
“I’m confident that the focus and the plans that the force has got are as good as they can be and we are as prepared as we can be for this pandemic.
“I know the Federation has been massively engaged in decision making and communication, at all levels.”