The chair of Staffordshire Police Federation says he’s appalled at the rise in assaults on emergency workers.

Now Phil Jones has called for offenders who weaponise Covid-19 when attacking frontline workers to feel the full weight of the law.

He was speaking after new figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) showed a 10 per cent increase in attacks on emergency services workers in November compared to the previous year.

The NPCC said: “It is thought the rise may be driven by increases in common assaults on police constables, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19”.

Phil said: “Any attack on police officers and other emergency workers is shocking but to see them going up by such a high amount is appalling. My colleagues in the emergency services are the very people who are working tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep people safe, so it’s disheartening to see them treated this way.

“Spitting on officers and our colleagues in the other emergency services and using Covid-19 as a weapon is a despicable act. We need offenders to be given the toughest possible sentences to send out the message that it won’t be accepted.”

Phil’s comments have been backed by John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

He said: “I’m disgusted to see this appalling increase as Covid-19 continues to spread. These figures will include many police officers being spat at and coughed at by vile individuals who weaponise the virus, which threatens their health and that of their families.

“It’s disgustingly offensive that 999 workers, who are working so hard to protect the public throughout this crisis, are being attacked and assaulted in this way. People need to remember that these emergency workers are mums and dads, and sons and daughters who have families to go home to at the end of a shift.

“Those who commit these despicable offences must be harshly dealt with by the courts and face the full force of the law.”

He said PFEW will continue to seek an increase in sentences for those who assault officers through its ‘Protect The Protectors’ campaign.

“It is vital to ensure courts issue tougher sentences to those who assault emergency service workers. If you assault a police officer you should expect to spend time in prison, no ifs, no buts,” John added.

Other findings in the NPCC figures include:

• Serious violent crime, including grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and personal robbery reduced by 20 per cent

• Shoplifting was down 32 per cent

• Vehicle crime fell by 22 per cent

• Residential burglary was down by 23 per cent

• In total, 32,329 fixed penalty notices have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales under Coronavirus Regulations between Friday 27 March and Monday 21 December 2020.