POLICE have seen in a surge in ‘Covid assaults’ involving police officers being coughed or spat on.

There were 23 incidents whereby people who claimed to have the virus coughed at officers between March and July 2020, according to West Mercia Police.

There were also 29 assaults where officers were spat at in the same period.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “My mission has always been to highlight assaults on emergency workers and to campaign for tougher sentencing for the perpetrators of these horrible crimes.

“The lockdown period, despite having an overall positive affect on reported crime, saw an increase in officer assaults, and in particular assaults where people were claiming to have Covid-19.

“It is saddening that, at a time when the country were clapping every Thursday for emergency service workers, that some made the decision to weaponise Covid-19 in order to create stress and anxiety for officers and their families.”

“I have made no secret of my support for increased sentencing for those that assault emergency service workers, and I will continue to champion this cause.

“It’s only then that we will send a clear message that assaults on those that serve to protect society will be met with the severest of consequences.”

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones added: “Every day our officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect others and keep our communities safe so assaults on them and all emergency workers are appalling, not only during the response to Covid-19 but at any time.

“I have no doubt that the vast majority of people in our communities will be as equally horrified by these numbers as we are and agree that anyone that intentionally harms a public service work should be brought to justice.

“The wellbeing of all those that work for and volunteer for us is paramount. We take our responsibility to look after them incredibly seriously.

“We have commissioned a review of our officer safety training and PPE provision to explore if there are new options available to us to try and reduce assaults either through additional training or different equipment.

“We will continue to work with Mr Campion and the Police Federation to ensure that appropriate support services are in place for them and their families.”