Posted: Wed 8th Apr 2020

COVID-19: Police Federation call for tough sentences after “vile and sickening” incidents where officer have been coughed at

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 8th, 2020

North Wales Police Federation has called on courts to use their full sentencing powers on people claiming to have coronavirus and coughing or spitting at officers. 

In the past few days, several incidents have taken place where officers from North Wales Police have been deliberately coughed or spat at by people claiming they have coronavirus.

The most recent incidents are understood to have taken place in Flint and Bangor where officers were coughed at.

A man from Rhyl was recently recalled to jail after preparing to spit at police whilst saying he had COVID-19.

At the end of March, 44-year-old Stephen Budski from Llanfrothen was jailed for spitting on a female police officer.

Budski was arrested for public order offences after police received calls about the behaviour of two men in a street in the south Gwynedd area.

When police arrived at the scene, he became aggressive towards them and subsequently spat on one of the officers.

He sentenced at Mold Magistrates Court to 18 weeks in prison for assaulting an emergency worker.

North Wales Police Federation said its “vile and sickening” people are claiming to have COVID-19 and coughing and spitting at officers on the frontline, it “makes us immensely angry.” 

Mark Jones, General Secretary of North Wales Police Federation said:

“During these extreme challenging times for all emergency services and key workers we really need the public on our side to fight this horrid virus.

To get occasions when people are deliberately coughing in the faces of police officers and others is disgraceful.

Our plea to the prosecuting authorities and courts is that they use their full sentencing powers to send a powerful message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable.

We are not in ordinary times, we are in extreme circumstances and need the full weight of the judiciary to back up our colleagues on the frontline.

The Police Federation is providing welfare support to our colleagues and working with the force to ensure our members are best protected and supported during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The president of the Police Superintendents’ Association told MP’s this week that a minority of offenders had resorted to behaviour which was putting officers at risk of contracting the virus.

Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths said the vast majority of people were supportive of the lockdown legislation and of the police, but for a minority, there are “extreme and vile behaviours going on”.

He added: “Strong sentences are being issued. We’re very supportive of that and continuing to send out that message that this really is unacceptable behaviour.”

Anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers faces serious criminal charges, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“Such behaviour is illegal and assaults specifically against emergency workers are punishable by up to two years in prison.

Coughs directed as a threat at other key workers or members of the public could be charged as common assault.” The CPS has said

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am therefore appalled by reports of police officers and other frontline workers being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have Covid-19.

“Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop. The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.”

In January, the CPS published new guidance strengthening its approach to assaults on emergency workers after analysis revealed it had prosecuted almost 20,000 cases since the legislation first came into force in November 2018.

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