More than 800 police officers in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began, figures show.
Data obtained through freedom of information requests shows that 849 officers in 24 of the UK’s 45 armed forces tested positive for the virus.
The Federation of Police said officers across the country are “continually concerned” when faced with offenders who may spit, bite and cough while handling them.
The numbers obtained from the PA News Agency’s RADAR service include 228 officers from the Scottish Police, 101 from the West Midlands Police and 95 from the Greater Manchester Police.
At the police station in Merseyside, where Police Chief Andy Cooke tested positive in March, 62 officers contracted the virus.
The numbers exclude the city police, which have not yet responded to the FOI request filed in September, and the other 20 armed forces that have not provided the information.
The forces that responded did so between October 6th and November 6th, so the case numbers may be higher now.
In August, the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing issued new guidelines for the armed forces on the use of personal protective equipment.
Advice on social distancing and improved hygiene was also given, but it was accepted that maintaining a distance of two meters was not always possible.
Federation of Police Chairman John Apter said it was “inevitable” that some officials would catch the virus because of the nature of their work.
He added: “In addition to the risk of contracting the virus, monitoring the pandemic is also affecting the mental health and well-being of officials as they continue to work 12-hour shifts and days off are canceled to protect the public this difficult time.
“There’s also constant concern about bringing the virus home to loved ones, which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who arm the virus by spitting, biting and coughing – which is disgusting and unacceptable.
“People have to recognize that officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters behind the uniform.”
Mr Apter urged the public “not to give up now” in order to quell the virus and follow the latest guidelines to reduce its spread.
The National Police Chiefs Council also urged the public to comply with the rules.
Chairman Martin Hewitt said, “Although demand remains high, we are well prepared to respond to crime or other issues.”
Aside from the 24 police officers who responded, Durham police said 37 officers were absent due to Covid-19, while Wiltshire police said 134 officers had reported illness related to Covid-19.
These numbers are not included in the total of positive tests.
Other forces have not received a reply or have refused to reply for reasons such as protecting personal identity and the intention to publish the information at a later date.
Where cops took Covid-19 on sick leave
Here are the responses to Freedom of Information requests received from the PA News Agency’s RADAR service, with the name of the armed forces followed by the total number of police officers who tested positive for coronavirus:
Avon and Somerset Police: Jan.
Bedfordshire Police: 6
Cambridgeshire Police: 3
Cheshire Constabulary: Nov.
Derbyshire Constabulary: 8
Devon and Cornwall Police: 7
Dyfed-Powys Police: 10
Gloucestershire Constabulary: 9
Greater Manchester Police: 95
Hertfordshire Constabulary: 13
Lancashire Constabulary: 55
Leicestershire Constabulary: 17
Merseyside Police: 62
Norfolk Constabulary: 4
North Wales Police: Dec.
Northamptonshire Police Department: Jan.
Northumbria Police: 44
Nottinghamshire Police: Dec.
Police Scotland: 228
South Wales Police: 39
Suffolk Constabulary: 3
West Mercia Police: 20
West Midlands Police: 101
Northern Ireland Police Service: 41