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At least 99 attacks on south west key workers

"Be kind" say #unacceptable team

Almost 100 attacked on key workers have been made in Devon, Cornwall since lockdown.

Now people across the peninsular are being asked to ‘be kind’ as workers strive to keep the south west running during the coronavirus outbreak. in a new campaign - #unacceptable - which has been launched on the peninsula.

Since lockdown began, 87 assaults on police officers and12 on other emergency workers have been logged. These include verbal abuse, being coughed and sneezed at and physical attacks.

The campaign is being launched by the local resilience forum, made up of those agencies that represent key workers in the region.

Recently one woman has been jailed for six months for spitting blood into the face of police officer in Exeter. In Plymouth a burglar spat on a police officer after being arrested and then said he had coronavirus. In Torbay, care staff supporting vulnerable people in their homes have been verbally abused for unfounded fears they may be spreading the virus. In Devon, highways staff have been abused whilst carrying out vital repairs to our roads to ensure NHS staff can get to work safely. 

Chief constable Shaun Sawyer  said: “Assaults on any of these vital, keyworkers are unacceptable. Spitting, coughing or in any way spreading or threatening to spread covid-19 to anyone is intolerable and especially so to someone who is giving their all during a public health emergency. Assault of this kind on any member of the public is abhorrent and may, in some circumstances, lead to arrest and we will seek to bring criminal proceedings against suspected offenders in discussion with the Crown Prosecution Service.”

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “This kind of behaviour is appalling and totally unacceptable. Most of us are grateful and supportive of our key workers including council staff who are out there every day doing their best to look after the most vulnerable and keep things going. We will not tolerate any kind of abuse and hope the courts come down heavily to stamp it out.”

Ken Wenman, chief executive of South Western Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the front-line to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year we saw 1,330 incidents of violence and aggression towards our staff  and these incidents have continued during the COVID-19 crisis when they are working in an extremely challenging environment to protect and save lives.

“We support whatever action is necessary to ensure our staff can continue to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for such attacks are prosecuted.”

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