Gloucestershire Police Officers are continuing to protect their communities despite many of them being subjected to ‘reprehensible’ COVID-19 related assaults.
Since the crisis began a number of officers have been spat at or coughed on by people claiming to have the killer disease.
With families and loved ones at home it’s an extra worry for officers to carry as they go about their duties says Gloucestershire Police Federation.
Chairman Steve James said one silver lining was that magistrates and courts were taking the assaults seriously.
“Since the crisis began we’ve seen a number of cases where offenders have been charged and gone to court for using COVID-19 as a weapon to assault officers with, or at the very least the threat of that,” he said.
“Officers are no different to the general public in their fear and anxiety around catching this virus, and it’s not just the effect that it would have on themselves.
“Police officers have families too and the nature of our job is that we can’t socially distance as well as others. We carry the risk every day that we might take this back into our homes, so for somebody to deliberately threaten officers with that risk is reprehensible.”
Prison sentences being handed down has sent out the ‘right message’, Steve added.
“In almost every case I’ve seen an appropriate and normally significant custodial sentence, handed down.
“I thank the courts for their support of officers during this crisis. It sends a clear message to people who would assault officers in this way that such assaults are not tolerated and that both the courts and the public are behind our officers.
“It also sends a vital message to the officers themselves that they’re being supported when such acts occur, which can do a great deal for their confidence.”
The damage assaults can do to officers’ mental health and the worry around whether they’ve contracted the disease cannot be underestimated.
“It’s a worry that will be at the back of the minds of most officers on most days. Not that it will stop them going out and performing the essential work they need to keep communities safe.”