Spitting at police condemned as “vile” after four officers assaulted

PUBLISHED: 16:07 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 August 2018

Assaults on police by spitting has been described as

Assaults on police by spitting has been described as "vile" after four officers were assaulted in Norwich last weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

The county’s crime commissioner has branded attacks on police as “vile”, after four officers were spat at in Norwich in just one weekend.

Police and crime commissioner Lorne Green with inspector for roads policing Jonathan Chapman.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice and crime commissioner Lorne Green with inspector for roads policing Jonathan Chapman. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Suspects in the two incidents have been arrested and charged to appear in court, at a time when new legislation is progressing to increase sentencing powers for assaults on emergency workers.

Figures from the Home Office show that between April 2017 and March 2018, 518 assaults against officers were recorded by Norfolk Constabulary.

Of those, 136 caused injury. It is the first time that assaults causing injury to police officers have been recorded separately from those against members of the public.

Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys, of Norwich police, said spitting at officers “is vile”.

“With the type of things people carry within their saliva you start looking at possible hepatitis, and that is really worrying for those officers for their long term health,” she said.

“You think if you were the family or partner while they are going through testing, there is the possibility of them passing something on to their family as well.”

The Police Federation has hailed the introduction of a new law which will allow tougher sentences for offenders, saying that officers should not have to consider assault “just part of the job”.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill will be passed into law this autumn.

Under it, the fact that assaults are committed against emergency workers will be taken into account when sentencing offenders, potentially leading to tougher sentences.

Lorne Green, police and crime commissioner for Norfolk, said: “If we have police officers in A&E on weekends as patients rather than on the streets it is an assault against all of us, and that cannot be tolerated.

“I will never cease to encourage going further in recognising really how vile these assaults are.”

He added the “risk is potentially even greater” when officers are spat at, due to the risk of disease.

“I know of a senior police officer who some time ago was spat upon in the mouth and for the next six months he and his family had the anxiety to see if he had contracted a disease,” he said.

“No-one should wake up in the morning expecting to be physically assaulted. Too often we hear of sentencing where somebody seems to have got away rather lightly for the gravity of the offence, and I find that troubling.”

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