A new poll found that a third of police officers were threatened with intentional Covid-19 infection by members of the public.
Research by the Federation of Police of England and Wales showed that 30 percent of officers polled had been threatened by someone believed to have the virus in the past six months.
The Federation interviewed around one in ten ordinary officers.
Another 32 percent said someone they believed was infected with Covid threatened to cough or breathe.
It wasn’t all empty threats – research shows 21 percent of the police force had a member of the public who was believed the virus had actually tried to spit on them.
And nearly a quarter (24 percent) had someone try to breathe or cough.
More than half of the police officers surveyed (55 percent) stated that they had been the victim of an unarmed physical attack in the past year. 16 percent said they had injuries that required medical attention.
John Apter, chairman of the Federation of Police of England and Wales, said: “This poll clearly shows that the enormous pressure officers are overseeing the pandemic and its negative impact on their welfare. Half of those surveyed said they had been physically assaulted and one of them three of them have been threatened by someone who claims to have Covid.
“The results of this survey come directly from our members – the police officers who are on the front lines with whatever society throws at them.
“The increased violence to which they are exposed, especially the virus ‘weapon’, is a sad indictment against the society in which we live.”
More than 120,000 police officers are members of the Police Federation, with the ranks varying from police officers to chief inspectors.
The study – called the Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey – was conducted between October 5th and November 23rd last year.
John Apter is among several police leaders urging the government to prioritize the Covid-19 vaccine for frontline officials.
According to the largest force in Britain, the Metropolitan Police – five officers have died of the disease in the past two weeks.
Mr Apter said, “You need to get the protection you need to protect yourself and that includes prioritizing the Covid vaccine.
“We have had enough of the warm words, we need action now.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said, “These attacks on our rescue workers are simply unacceptable and we will rightly use the full force of the law against those who cause harm and commit such horrific acts and violence and crimes against our police officers and our emergency services.”