Nearly one in three police officers in England and Wales have been threatened with deliberate infection by someone who is believed to carry the CCP virus, survey results show.
“The weaponising of the COVID-19 virus against police officers was revealed to be an emerging threat to health and welfare,” the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which conducted the survey, said in a press release.
National @PFEW_Chair John Apter reacts to the shocking findings of PFEW Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey
— Police Federation (@PFEW_HQ) January 28, 2021
Of the 12,471 respondents to the federation’s 2020 Demand, Capacity, and Welfare survey (pdf), 32 percent reported a member of the public who was believed to carry the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus had purposely threatened to breathe or cough on them, while 24 percent said someone had actually done so.
A total of 28 percent of the respondents said they had performed pandemic-related duties, including tasks involving CCP virus-related deaths.
While just three percent of the officers had tested positive for the CCP virus, another 23 percent believed they had contracted the virus “based on strong personal suspicion or medical advice.”
Of all those who believed they had been infected, 45 percent were convinced that they had contracted the virus through work-related activities.
John Apter, national chair of the federation, said the survey “clearly shows the huge pressure officers are under policing the pandemic and the negative impact on their welfare.”
He urged the government to give officers “all the protection they need,” including being prioritised for the CCP virus vaccine.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service prosecuted 1,688 offences involving assaults on emergency workers between April 1 and Sept. 30 last year, according to data released last week.
Many of the assaults were committed against police officers, who were coughed at, spat on, kicked, bitten, or hit with heavy objects when trying to stop suspected breaches of CCP virus restrictions.
The UK has been under varying levels of CCP virus restrictions since the pandemic began last spring.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the whole of England under the third national lockdown to curb the spread of a new variant first detected in southeast England, which he said had a higher transmissibility than the old variant.
Simon Veazey and Mary Clark contributed to this report.