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Third of police officers have faced ‘threats of being infected’ with coronavirus

Written by on 28/01/2021

A third of police officers have been threatened with infection of COVID-19 by a member of the public, according to new research.

A survey by the Police Federation of England and Wales found that 30% had faced being spat at by someone claiming to have the coronavirus in the past six months.

And 32% said someone who they believed had the virus had suggested they might breathe or cough on the officer.

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The survey had usable responses from 12,471 members of the federation’s total cohort of more than 120,000.

It showed that 21% of officers had a member of the public, thought to have the virus, actually try to spit on them, and 24% had someone try to cough or breathe on them.

A total of 55% of the respondents to the survey said they had been subject to a physical attack in the past 12 months, and 16% said they had suffered injuries requiring medical treatment.

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John Apter, the chairman of the federation, said: “This survey clearly shows the huge pressure officers are under policing the pandemic and the negative impact on their welfare…

“The results of this survey have come directly from our members – those police officers who are on the front line dealing with whatever society throws at them.

“The increasing level of violence they face, especially involving the weaponising of the virus, is a sad indictment of the society we live in.”

The poll was carried out between 5 October and 23 November last year.

It comes as the Metropolitan Police revealed earlier this week that five of its officers had died with the virus in the past fortnight.

Mr Apter is calling for frontline officers to get priority access to the vaccine.

He said: “They must be given all the protection they need to protect themselves and this includes being prioritised for the COVID vaccine. We have had enough of the warm words, we now need action.”

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “Those assaults on our emergency workers are simply unacceptable, and rightly so, we will use the full force of the law against those perpetrators who are doing harm and perpetrating such terrible acts and violence and crimes against our police officers and our emergency services.”

Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.

Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February

 Sky News

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