1 in 5 police officers have reported being spat at during the Covid pandemic

1 in 5 police officers have reported being spat at during the Covid pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)

A significant number of British police officers working throughout the coronavirus pandemic have been threatened with infection by people claiming to have Covid, according to new research.

Senior officers have described the findings of the survey as “a sad indictment of the society we live in”.

A survey of police officers in England and Wales found that 30 per cent had experienced people claiming to have Covid threatening to spit at them, with over one in five officers saying they had actually been spat at.

More than 30 per cent said a member of the public they thought had the virus had threatened to breathe or cough on them, and 24 per cent said they had been breathed or coughed at.

More than 12,000 respondents

The survey was carried out by the Police Federation of England and Wales, and took place between 5 October and 23 November last year.

More than 12,000 officers responded to the survey, meaning a response-rate of around 10 per cent of the entire rank-and-file police force.

One in six officers said they’d suffered injuries which required medical attention in the last year, and more than half of those surveyed reported being the victim of an unarmed physical attack.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Jon Apter, said: “This survey clearly shows the huge pressure officers are under policing the pandemic and the negative impact on their welfare.

“The results of this survey have come directly from our members – those police officers who are on the front line dealing with whatever society throws at them.

“The increasing level of violence they face, especially involving the ‘weaponising’ of the virus, is a sad indictment of the society we live in.”

‘Deeply saddened’

Five serving officers with the Metropolitan police service have died this month after contracting Covid, and an officer with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) also died from the disease.

Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick said she was “deeply saddened by the news,” and colleagues of PC Abbasuddin Ahmed, the GMP officer who died, described him as "such a lovely man who was never seen without a smile on his face".