Suffolk police chief ‘appalled’ as officers spat and coughed on by suspects during coronavirus crisis
- Credit: Rachel Edge
A police chief has praised families for staying home but described the behaviour of a small minority as “consistently appalling” over the four-day Easter break.
Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary Steve Jupp also told last night how police officers in the county have been coughed and spat on by members of the public who have been detained in recent weeks during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I have been shocked by the consistently appalling behaviour of those our officers have been detaining as they have been regularly coughed and spat on,” he recalled.
“It is very worrying as we don’t know who has the virus and who is transmitting it, so it’s hard for an officer to go home to their family at the end of a shift, aware they could be infecting them.”
While officers on the front line do have some level of personal protective equipment (PPE) this is mainly just a facemask and Mr Jupp pointed out this can often be compromised during day to day operations.
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He said: “It is very difficult in an active situation to make sure you’re covered by your PPE, especially with some of the duties our officers are involved in such as detaining people.”
A rise in road traffic across the county earlier last week led to a concern that the sunny Easter weekend would lead to more people breaking the isolation guidance to spend time outside of the home.
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However, the constabulary in fact saw a decline in traffic on roads as well as a lower footfall in towns.
From Friday April 10 to Sunday April 12 the police received a total of 522 reports from members of the public reporting people ignoring the government restrictions and issued a total of 146 warnings to those in public or gathered at other addresses.
Mr Jupp added: “From our perspective it has been good. The vast majority of people in Suffolk have done what they’ve been told and stayed inside which is encouraging to see.”
Addressing a recent string of armed robberies at shops across Suffolk, the chief constable said: “Sadly crime will always be amongst us, there are always people looking for opportunities to take advantage, especially as we’ve seen in small places which are usually quite quiet.
“Communities are fearful at the moment but we have been out and about and want to show the public that we are here to protect them – especially our key workers in shops and supermarkets who we are all, myself included, are completely reliant on.”
The constabulary have been dealing with a high number of calls concerning day to day policing and are focusing on reassurance during the bank holiday weekend.