Covid-19: Spat-at Dorset police officer 'struggling' with Covid

By Michael Race
BBC News

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image captionDorset Police officers have been patrolling for lockdown breaches, including during a recent demonstration in Bournemouth

A police officer is "really struggling" from the effects of coronavirus after he was spat at by a suspect while on duty, a police federation has said.

The officer was targeted in Bournemouth on 6 January before he tested positive.

James Vaughan, chief constable of Dorset Police, described the assault as "absolutely disgusting and despicable".

In a separate incident, another officer was spat at in Weymouth after advising three men in breach of Covid rules in the early hours of Friday.

Anna Harvey, chairwoman of Dorset Police Federation, said some offenders were "using Covid as a weapon".

She confirmed she had spoken with the usually fit and healthy officer affected and said he was "really struggling" with the symptoms of Covid-19.

A police spokeswoman confirmed the officer had been spat at in Charminster Road while responding to reports a man was stopping traffic.

She said a man had been charged with assault by beating and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

image copyrightDorset Police
image captionOfficers had been advising three males about Covid rules near Weymouth Esplanade before one was spat at

The federation chairwoman said officers were concerned over contracting the disease and passing it on to their families.

She echoed similar calls from other federations and said members "want to know when we are going to get vaccinated" as key workers on the front line.

In the incident in Weymouth, Dorset Police said a suspect "deliberately coughed" in the face of one officer near the Esplanade in the early hours of Friday.

After he was arrested on suspicion of assault, the two other men "tried to free" the detained suspect, police said.

As officers used PAVA spray to try and subdue them, one of them spat at a second officer.

A man, 44, from Blandford, has been charged with obstructing a constable. He has also been charged with assaulting an emergency worker, along with a 34-year-old man from Weymouth.

The force said it did not believe the men were Covid positive.

'Stubborn minority'

Figures recently obtained by the Press Association showed more than 800 police officers in the UK had tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

Data suggested 849 officers across 24 of the UK's 45 forces had tested positive for the virus.

Chief Constable Mr Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said in a statement he was "so very proud" of officers and staff "for the way they have supported our communities".

He added: "No-one, especially our fantastic key workers, should have to put up with this."

He said the force had taken "a measured approach before carrying out any enforcement" but added a "stubborn minority of people refusing to abide by the regulations will be dealt with robustly".

Meanwhile, a police officer in Cambridgeshire has also tested positive for Covid-19 after being spat at by a suspect who had the virus.

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