'Geniune fear' as Hampshire police officers spat at 115 times during Covid-19 pandemic

POLICE officers in Hampshire have been spat at more than 100 times during the pandemic.

By Maria Zaccaro
Monday, 12th October 2020, 10:10 am
Updated Monday, 12th October 2020, 1:24 pm

Between March and September this year Hampshire Constabulary recorded 115 cases of officers being spat at.

The incidents have been described as ‘disgusting’.

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Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney. Picture: Sarah Standing (160563-486)

The government has pledged to tighten the law as the number of officers spat at is on the rise.

Figures show there were 26 incidents in Hampshire in March alone.

In August there were 23 incidents, February had 19, while both January and May saw 18 incidents.

Mrs Pinkney said spitting in the pandemic caused ‘genuine fear’ among police.

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Speaking at the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel this month she said: ‘It is horrible anyway, my staff say they’d rather being punched in the face than being spat at but when Covid is with us that makes it even more dangerous.’

Police officers in Hampshire were spat at 152 times between January and September this year.

Over the same period last year the force recorded 120 incidents, 100 of which happened between March and September.

Zoe Wakefield, chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said it is ‘concerning’ that figures are on the rise.

She added: ‘In any situation, spitting is vile behaviour, but it really is not an acceptable part of a police officer’s job to turn up to a crime, to help members of the public, and have coronavirus weaponised against them.

‘The courts need to play their part and implement the maximum sentences they can if a person is assaulting a police officer. And if they have the power to implement custodial sentences, then they should be doing that.’

Police said to date, no officers or staff who had been spat or coughed at are reported to have contracted the virus.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the government plans to double the maximum sentence for assaulting front-line workers from one to two years.

He added: ‘The message is clear, if you attack our police or any other emergency worker, you will face the full force of the law.

‘I have no idea what goes through the twisted mind of someone who assaults a police officer or indeed even spits at them.

‘It is a truly disgusting thing to do to someone whom you will making your first call to when you are in personal danger.’

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