Coronavirus threats made to frontline workers will not be tolerated

30/03/2020

“I’m appalled that the women and men 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 the consequences.”

This was the strong message made by National Chair of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC) and Sussex PCC, Katy Bourne following the sentencing today of a man in Sussex who spat in three officer’s faces, claiming to have infected them with the virus.

Sussex Police said they received a report of criminal damage at a block of flats in Albion Street, Brighton about 5.50pm on Saturday (28th March).

While responding to the incident, three officers were spat at by a man claiming to be infected with Coronavirus.

This incident led to the arrest of Peter Davy, 65, who was then charged with three counts of assaulting an emergency worker, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence; and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

This is just one of many reports of threatening assaults that have been made nationally over the last week.

APCC Chair Katy Bourne has spoken out today making it clear that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated: “I’m appalled that the women and men 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 the consequences.

“Whilst 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, as we have seen today, offenders will be swiftly brought to justice.”

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that such behaviour could constitute common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically were punishable by up to two years in prison.

At today’s hearing in Brighton Magistrates court, Mr Davy pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and forced to pay three counts of £50 compensation.

Max Hill QC, the director of public prosecutions, said: “The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.”

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