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Police, NHS staff and key workers report being verbally abused and spat at in Surrey

2 minute read
Police, NHS staff and key workers report being verbally abused and spat at in Surrey

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 5:29pm 9th April 2020.

Surrey Police say there have been increasing reports of verbal abuse and assaults on frontline workers during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Police, NHS staff and key workers are reporting being verbally abused, spat at, or coughed at, with some people claiming to have COVID-19 symptoms. 

Such behaviour could be classed as common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically are punishable by up to two years in prison.

Chief Superintendent Jane Derrick described the reports as appalling:

“We have engaged, explained and encouraged people to do the right thing in following the government’s guidance to stay home and ensure we protect the NHS and ultimately save lives during this devastating public health crisis.

"With those who chose not comply with the government's guidance, we have taken the necessary enforcement action.

“However we had cases of our officers who are engaging with the public or responding to reports of crime who have been spat or coughed on by individuals claiming to have coronavirus in a bid to avoid being arrested.

"We have also had reports of people spitting at and verbally abusing key workers.

“It is appalling that the women and men on the frontline of this crisis are being threatened with the virus that they are working so hard every day to protect us against.

"The fact that they are being spat or coughed on is bad enough, but to then claim to have Covid-19, makes the behaviour even more despicable.

"Being assaulted is not part of the job."