Spitting at key workers - the abuse given to those helping to save lives

For the last three Thursdays at 8pm, the public has shown its appreciation for NHS workers during the virus crisis. Beyond the doorstep and for other key workers, it can sometimes be different.

All around the region, police, shop staff and even care workers have been abused, even spat at.

Assaulting an emergency worker can carry a two year prison sentence, as some people have now found out.

  • Watch Tony Green's report below:

A man, Oliver Cook, attacked police officers in Whitstable. They had been called to a supermarket after he was seen shoplifting. He spat at police. Now he's in jail.

  • Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, Kent Police

Peter Davy and Barry Turner were jailed for a number of offenses

It's not an isolated incident.

Peter Davy (above) claimed to have Coronavirus as he spat at police in Brighton. He was jailed for three months.

Barry Turner (above) was jailed for coughing at officers in Bournemouth, saying, ''Have some of the coronavirus.''

All around the region frontline workers have seen the same behaviour.

Portsmouth Care manager Amy Hall was also abused Credit: ITV Meridian

Care workers have been targeted too.

Portsmouth Care manager Amy Hall called into her local supermarket between shifts to buy a present for her mother.

  • Amy Hall, Care home worker

No one thought working in a supermarket would put them on the front line.

This is Sheerness Tesco on the Isle of Sheppey. Here the manager Kay Speed kept a diary to show others what her working life was like.

Sheerness Tesco, Isle of Sheppey Credit: ITV Meridian
Pharmacy staff don't fare better Credit: ITV Meridian

Pharmacy staff don't fare better.

One worker at a Boots branch said: "We have had an influx of prescriptions. Some customers have been kind and understanding, but many have been rude and disrespectful. We are struggling with the mass amount of work and it's become stressful, exhausting and difficult to cope with."

  • Rafael Rey, Usdaw

It's only a minority that have turned on key workers, but such behaviour has never been more disrespectful or dangerous.