By Local Democracy Reporter Katie May Nelson
Assaults against police officers in Kent have risen by more than 300 on pre-pandemic levels.
During the course of the Covid-19 outbreak up to October, 1,190 assaults were recorded against police in the county.
That was up by 346 compared to the same period last year, a 40% increase.
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley briefed the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott in a public meeting held online today (Wednesday, December 9), during which he spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on the force.
Mr Pughsley said: “The 346 are officers or staff, not just numbers, they are real people. Real people have been assaulted, spat at, coughed at, assaulted in many other ways whilst they are trying to do their job in the most trying of circumstances, so it’s pretty appalling.
He added that in the last week alone, there had been attacks on officers, including five offences of biting and nine of spitting.
Figures previously obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service showed between March and September this year, there were a total of 119 reports of assault 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.
The Chief Constable also explained the impact of the pandemic on staffing. Police absences currently sit below the national average of 6.3% at 2.8%.
A total of 770 coronavirus tests have been carried out within the force, 225 coming back positive, and currently one officer is hospitalised with the virus.
Mr Pughsley said: “The response by my officers and staff over the last nine months to this pandemic has been nothing short of staggering, brilliant and some of the best policing commitment and dedication I have ever seen.”