Rise in assaults on Wiltshire Police as they enforce lockdown rules

  • Report by Caron Bell

Wiltshire Police say abuse of their officers is up nearly 10% as it tries to enforce coronavirus restrictions.

On some occasions, Covid itself has been used a weapon - with people claiming to have the virus spitting and coughing on police.

In many instances, officers have been injured and some have even been bitten.

Between July and December 2020, there were 143 assaults on Wiltshire's police officers.

In 63 of those cases, an officer was injured.

Five assaults have also been recorded against officers and staff since the start of 2021.

Kier Pritchard, Chief Constable of Wiltshire, said: "Probably the most significant injury that I recall was in the first weekend of lockdown when a young officer in Salisbury tried to sensibly interact with a group and he received a very significant bite onto his forearm.

"The offender was sentenced to four years imprisonment for grievous bodily harm and that young officer had to go through surgery and has now got permanent scarring as a result of that.

"You know, we are here to try to protect the public. We should not be having to sustain any form of abuse, let alone violence and assaults of that nature. It's absolutely horrific."

PCSO Shaun Redmond wants people to understand that the police are there to keep everyone safe during the pandemic Credit: ITV West Country

PCSO Shaun Redmond aims to educate and encourage people to follow Covid regulations.

Within minutes of starting his patrol in Chippenham, he was verbally abused twice.

He said: "When we were down on the town bridge, a man cycled past and was abusive towards me. And walking back down the high street a few moments ago, a male came out of a shop.

"He was abusive to the town centre staff working on the pavement, then he was abusive to myself. And then came back and was abusive again. I had to deploy my camera for pure safety. The male's now fortunately moved off."

The prospect of being caught on the PCSO's bodycam can act as a deterrent. Credit: ITV West Country

Shaun Redmond, a former prison guard, said: "As an individual, you don't take it personally. It is your job. It's happened at work so I certainly don't take it personally." 

He has a message for those who are confronting officers. 

"I would ask them to work with us. We're here for them. We're here to make the towns and cities safer for them, and we're here to get everyone through this pandemic as best as we possibly can."

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: "We will not tolerate assaults upon our officers and staff or other emergency services workers and will, with the support of the courts, robustly bring to justice those who assault the protectors of our communities."Our officers will continue to put themselves at risk to keep us all safe and we ask the public to work with us to prevent the spread of the virus."

Wiltshire Police have issued an increasing number of fines for coronavirus breaches in 2021. Credit: ITV West Country

While most people in Wiltshire have so far abided by the Covid regulations, the force has seen an increase in the number of fines being issued over the past seven days.Between 18 and 24 January 2021, Wiltshire Police has:• Issued 33 fixed penalty notices.• Issued 68 formal warnings to people for failing to adhere to the Government rules. Four of these were issued to businesses not complying.• Recorded six interactions/engagement. Two for large groups, four for people not wearing masks and 0 for failing to isolate.• Recorded 321 reports from members of the public, either via the phone or using our online reporting tool.• Recorded four Covid-related crimes and 25 Covid-related incidents.

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