Spitting offences ‘awful and abhorrent’ say police, after officers face six incidents in seaside town

Police in Great Yarmouth have been assaulted on multiple occasions involving members of the public t

Police in Great Yarmouth have been assaulted on multiple occasions involving members of the public threatening to spit or cough at them. Picture: PC Andy Hunt - Credit: PC Andy Hunt

Police officers have been spat at or coughed on multiple times since the coronavirus lockdown began, with police chiefs deriding the behaviour as “awful and abhorrent”.

Police in Great Yarmouth have been assaulted on multiple occasions involving members of the public t

Police in Great Yarmouth have been assaulted on multiple occasions involving members of the public threatening to spit or cough at them. Picture: PC Andy Hunt - Credit: PC Andy Hunt

Between March 23 and April 28, officers in Great Yarmouth were involved in six separate incidents in which people either spat and coughed at them - or threatened to.

The first occasion was on Sunday, March 29 when, during the arrest of a male at Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre, an officer was coughed at.

Also during an arrest on Monday, April 20, a male spat at an officer while another coughed in an officer’s face.

On Sunday, April 26, a male coughed at an officer after claiming he had coronavirus.

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds.

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds. - Credit: Archant


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During this period a further two men made threats to spit at police on duty in the area.

The news comes as one woman, Joanne Turner from Norwich, was jailed for 12 weeks after pleading guilty to common assault of an emergency worker at Norwich Magistrates Court.

Andy Symonds, Norfolk’s Police Federation chairman, said: “Since late February we have had around 10 of these instances, on top of other assaults and threats.

“It is awful, abhorrent and another stressor on police officers’ work. “Officers are sadly working in an era where they know it’s not if, but when they will be assaulted. And now they face this extra pressure and strain.

Police are investigating after a raid at a store in Poringland. Picture: Archant

Police are investigating after a raid at a store in Poringland. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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“Their other halves are seeing them off to their shifts and worrying that they could bring coronavirus back into their homes.

“It is important to understand that not only are they worrying about being attacked as they go about their daily duty, protecting the public, but that there is now the added fear they could bring a life-threatening disease back to their family.”On top of threats to spit or cough at officers, and the ocassions when the perpetrator follows through, Great Yarmouth Police has been responding to dozens of call-outs regarding people apparently breaking public health guidance.

Over the weekend just gone - April 25-26 - officers in Great Yarmouth received 37 calls which were coronavirus-related.

These involved people reporting groups out drinking and holding social gatherings to residents who were worried that their neighbours were not duly following distancing measures.

Of these 37 calls, Norfolk Constabulary has confirmed that 17 were attended by officers and 20 were not.

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