G reater Manchester Police has recorded more than 170 assaults on emergency workers since the Covid-19 lockdown began on March 23.
GMP has thanked the public for ‘random acts of kindness’ but admit that at the opposite end of the spectrum there have been a number of incidents during which emergency workers have been assaulted.
Many of the incidents have resulted in charges and could result in custodial sentences.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said: “During this unprecedented time, police officers are fulfilling their regular duties to fight crime and protect people across Greater Manchester, while assisting partner agencies to manage the increased demand on their services.
“I would like to thank the vast majority of people who are supporting us by complying with the Government’s restrictions and, also, carrying out random acts of kindness.
“Unfortunately, there have been a number of assaults on police officers and colleagues across the emergency services – some have been physically injured while others have been spat on/coughed at, in some cases by individuals claiming to have Covid-19.
“This is disgusting behaviour. Police officers, paramedics and firefighters are working especially hard to protect people at this time and should not be subjected to assaults of any kind.”
Police have released video of a man who repeatedly coughed in an officer’s face while being arrested in Manchester city centre. He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one count of assault of an emergency worker and was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment.
PC Stephen Prestage, of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said: “It’s a challenging time to be a police officer but our morale has been boosted by random acts of kindness by local residents and businesses – from receiving home-made cards to free hot meals whilst on duty.
“However, I am speaking from experience when I say that being assaulted on the job is discouraging. Not only can it hinder our efforts to fight crime and protect people but, throughout the ongoing response to Covid-19, it can also result in us having to isolate from our families.”