A 29 per cent increase in attacks on police and front-line workers is unacceptable, says South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne.
Now Steve has called for tougher sentences for offenders who attack key workers.
His comments follow the release of new figures by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which show a 29 per cent rise in assaults on emergency services personnel in the four weeks to 30 August compared to the same period in 2019.
The NPCC said: “It is thought the rise may be driven by increases in common assaults on police constables, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.”
Steve commented: “Any assault on a front-line worker should not be tolerated but a 29 per cent rise is totally unacceptable.
“It’s shocking to see such a large increase in attacks on the very people who have been protecting the public throughout the pandemic.
“What is even more shocking is the fact that the rise is down to people spitting on officers with the aim of using Covid-19 as a weapon; truly appalling.
“We need to use the full weight of the law in these cases to give our members and their colleagues in the other emergency services the support and protection they need, and to send out the message such attacks are unacceptable.”
The NPCC figures show that crime trends have returned close to pre-lockdown levels. After a 28 per cent reduction at the height of lockdown, police recorded crime is now three per cent lower than in the same period in 2019.
Mental health incidents were up five per cent in this reporting period, the NPCC said, reported rape saw a four per cent rise and domestic abuse incidents increased by seven per cent.
National Police Federation chair John Apter said: “The recent return to pre-COVID crime levels comes as no surprise, as during lockdown there were fewer people out and therefore less opportunities to commit crime.
“Regrettably, I am not surprised either to see the rise in the number of call outs for mental health incidents. This has been steadily increasing year on year and the police are often seen as the first port of call when people need help.
“My colleagues will continue to do their job to the best of their ability but, as I have said many times before, there is no magic box of extra officers waiting to be opened and undoubtedly policing will struggle with this increased demand.”