Katy Bourne: Photo by Andrew Parsons, i-Images Picture Agency

A warning’s going out that assaults on emergency workers won’t be tolerated in Sussex.

It comes from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, who says spitting or coughing on them and claiming to have Covid-19 won’t be treated as a joke.

Katy Bourne spoke out after three police officers investigating a report of criminal damage were spat at by a man who claimed to be infected with coronavirus.

Mrs Bourne said:

“Let me be clear, coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke.

“It is a crime and you will face the consequences.”

It follows a man being jailed after spitting on police in Brighton at the weekend and telling them he had the virus.

The officers were assaulted on Saturday afternoon (28 March) after answering a call to flats in Albion Street, Brighton.

Peter Davy, 65, was charged with three counts of assaulting an emergency worker, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence; and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He pleaded guilty to all charges at a hearing in Brighton Magistrates court on Monday (30 March) and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and must pay three counts of £50 compensation.

Mrs Bourne said this was ‘just one of many reports of threatening assaults’ that had been made across the country over the past week.

She added:

“I’m appalled 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.

“Whilst most people are behaving responsibly to help our emergency services, a few individuals are continuing to act selfishly.

“In many ways this pandemic has already brought out the very best in our communities but where it brings out the worst, as we have seen today, offenders will be swiftly brought to justice.”

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that such behaviour could constitute common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically were punishable by up to two years in prison.

Max Hill QC, director of public prosecution, said:

“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.”

(By Karen Dunn – Local Democracy Reporter)

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