Police live in fear of catching Covid-19 as criminals 'weaponise' virus by 'spitting, biting and coughing'

More than 50 serving police officers in Lancashire have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 9:28 am
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 9:32 am
Police in PPE

New figures from Lancashire police show that a total of 55 officers has been infected so far - and the Police Federation says staff are plagued with ‘constant worry’ as they are faced with offenders who may spit, bite and cough on them.

Police Federation chairman John Apter, inset, said it was ‘inevitable’ that some officers would catch the virus given their nature of work.

But he said: “There is also the constant worry of bringing the virus home to their loved ones which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who weaponise the virus by spitting, biting and coughing - which is disgusting and unacceptable.

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“People need to realise that behind the uniform, officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.”

The majority of those diagnosed with Covid-19 in Lancashire were police constables, who accounted for 44 of the 55 positive tests.

A Lancashire police spokesman said: “Like any employer we have dealt with employee absence due to the pandemic, most of this had been due to community transmission and adhering to test and trace guidance. We monitor these numbers very closely and we have not had to reduce or limit any of our services as a result of staff absence.

“All parts of our business have undertaken Covid-19 risk assessments and all our staff have ready access to the PPE they require for any of the activities they need to undertake. The welfare and safety of our staff remains paramount and throughout the pandemic we have continued to update our guidance on PPE in line with the national Government recommendations and NPCC guidance for policing.

“We are fully committed to maintaining our service to the public of Lancashire and supporting them through this difficult time. We would like to thank the vast majority of the public for their help and support by complying with the law and guidance.”

Nationally, at least 849 police officers have tested positive at the 26 forces in the UK which answered a Freedom of Information Act request. Durham and Wiltshire police forces could not provide the number of officers with positive coronavirus tests.