Hundreds of attacks on police in Hertfordshire during Covid-19 pandemic
In September, the government announced plans to double the maximum jail term for criminals who assault emergency workers to two years
Police in Hertfordshire have been coughed on, spat at or bitten in more than 100 attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Police Federation of England and Wales say the attacks show "we are living in a more violent society which needs to take a long hard look at itself", adding that those caught should be sent to prison.
Hertfordshire Constabulary recorded 121 attacks on police officers which included coughing, spitting or biting from February to November last year.
That was up from the 103 reported during the same period in 2019.
As officers face this additional challenge in policing, they are also coping with coronavirus – Hertfordshire Constabulary data shows there had been 41 positive Covid-19 tests on police officers up to the beginning of December.
A Hertfordshire Police spokesperson said: “This is appalling behaviour and it will not be tolerated. People who deliberately spit and cough on emergency workers as well as members of the public will be dealt with robustly.This is an offence and it will be treated as assault.”
National chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said the attacks on police officers during the pandemic was "a serious issue for us all".
He said: “Those who attack emergency workers have a complete lack of respect for anything or anybody. Without doubt, we are living in a more violent society which needs to take a long hard look at itself."
He added: "We need officers to have the very best protection, and there must be a strong deterrent – that deterrent should be time in prison, no ifs, no buts.
"Time and time again we see officers who have been badly assaulted, and they see their attacker being let off with little more than just a slap on the wrist.
"This is offensive and fails to give that deterrent which is so desperately needed."
In September, the government announced plans to double the maximum jail term for criminals who assault emergency workers to two years.
Two years before a previous law change doubled the maximum term from six months to 12 in England and Wales.
Firefighters, prison officers and NHS staff are also classed as emergency workers.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse said: "Our brave police officers go to work every day to protect the public and being attacked should never be part of the job.
“Anyone who commits these despicable assaults should expect to face the full force of the law, which is why we are doubling the maximum sentence for those who assault emergency workers.
“This year, as well as continuing to recruit 20,000 additional police officers, we will enshrine a police covenant in law to provide better support for our selfless officers, staff, and their families - one of the key areas will be on the physical protection of officers.”