By Local Democracy Reporter Katie May Nelson
Incidents of people spitting at police officers in the county have increased since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Figures obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service show between March and September 2020, there were a total of 119 reported assaults, with or without injury, on a Constable where there was a spit marker attached to the report.
This rose from 79 in the same period in 2019. This year, 68% resulted in a charge, summons or postal requisition and 17 incidents remain under investigation.
In six cases between March and the end of September this year, a suspect was identified for the offence but was too ill for prosecution to go ahead.
The force’s Deputy Chief Constable, Tony Blaker, said: “Our officers do an outstanding job protecting the public and it is completely unacceptable for them to be assaulted while they undertake their duties.
“Spitting is a vile offence that should not be underestimated in terms of the impact that it has. It exposes the victim to disease and that risk is elevated by the threat of Covid-19.
“We have seen an increase in spitting offences this year, with 119 recorded crimes compared to 79 in the same period last year.
“It is deplorable to see a small minority of people continuing to spit given the risk that it poses during the pandemic.
“Any officer or staff member who is assaulted receives the same quality service that all victims of crime are entitled to receive and, on top of this, as their employer, we provide a comprehensive welfare and support package to them.
“No officer or member of staff should accept being assaulted as ‘part of the job’ and we will always seek to prosecute any offender for this type of crime.
“We are pleased to see the seriousness with which this type of offending is taken by our courts. There will be no tolerance for people who attack our officers and staff carrying out their duties, protecting and serving the people of Kent.”