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Police chief furious after officer who was spat at now 'suffering' with Covid-19
15 January 2021, 20:55
A furious police chief has condemned people using Covid-19 as a weapon after an officer who was spat at is now "suffering" with the virus.
Dorset Police boss James Vaughan told LBC the officer was "feeling awful" and has been forced to expose his family to the risks of the virus
"They describe it as the worst case of flu they’ve ever had," he said, "they’ve got a horrible headache, high temperature, and that officer was going about their business trying to keep other people safe and got spat at for his trouble.
"Officers don’t sign up for this."
The assault took place in Bournemouth last week as the officer tried to stop a drunk man from blocking traffic on a busy road.
He refused to budge and was taken into custody, but during the arrest it was reported that the man spat at the officer.
A Dorset Police spokesperson said: "A 41-year-old man of no fixed abode has been charged with assault by beating of an emergency worker and being drunk and disorderly in a public place and is due to appear at Poole Magistrates' Court on Tuesday February 23 2021."
Since mid-March 2020, almost 500 officers have been assaulted in Dorset - an increase of 25% on the same period the previous year.
Chief Vaughan added: "There is some serious concern around the rise of officer assaults.
"Spitting is one of the ways that officers get assaulted and it’s actually one of the most disgusting ways.
"That poor officer is now at home, his family are now exposed to COVID-19 and more importantly, taking his welfare to one side just for a minute, he’s no longer available to deploy onto the front line to help others.
"So very serious concerns about that indeed.”
A similar incident has been reported in Cambridgeshire, with one officer becoming ill with the virus after being spat at by a member of the public who claimed he had it.
The chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation also condemned offenders "using coronavirus as a weapon".
Liz Groom: “Coronavirus seems to be a weapon to some people – it’s that extra threat of ‘I’ve got coronavirus’ and then they spit.
“You can imagine the stress and the anxiety that causes the officer and also their family.
"Officers have families at home and what they don’t want to do is go home and infect their family as well.”
Calling for people to follow guidelines, she added: “It is not acceptable that a minority of the general public are putting the health of the nation at risk by flouting lockdown rules.”
Chief Constable Nick Dean described the incident as “disgusting” and said the incident "put into perspective the dangerous nature of policing".