Key workers attacked and threatened with Covid-19 infection

Key workers attacked and threatened with Covid-19 infection

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 12:13pm 17th April 2020. (Updated at 1:46pm 17th April 2020)

Police, ambulance, councils and others unite to tackle #Unacceptable verbal abuse, assaults and attacks on key workers

Emergency services and other partner agencies across Dorset are working together to highlight the #Unacceptable trend in the number of verbal abuse, assaults or attacks their staff face and the rising number involving threats of COVID-19 infection.
During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, police, the ambulance service, the fire service, council, healthcare staff and other key workers have regularly been subjected to attacks where the spread of the virus has been used as a tool to assault or verbally abuse key workers. 

  • Between 16 March and 14 April 2020 there were 40 occurrences of assault on police officers and emergency workers in Dorset.
  • These have included being coughed and sneezed at with the threat of infection and physical attacks.
police weymouth town centre

Chief Constable James Vaughan, (pictured above) of Dorset Police, said:

"Our officers and staff, along with other emergency services colleagues and key workers, demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis.

"They signed up to help protect the public, not to come into work each day with the risk of being assaulted, attacked, verbally abused or intentionally infected by COVID-19. The impact this can have on them, their colleagues and their families can have serious consequences."

Chief Constable James Vaughan continued:

"Coughing and sneezing at officers is particularly abhorrent during the public health emergency we are all facing.

"We will not tolerate assaults on our officers, our emergency services colleagues or key workers.

"Offenders will be dealt with robustly and we will bring criminal proceedings against those responsible."

Matt Prosser

Matt Prosser, Chief Executive of Dorset Council, (pictured above) said:

"It is really sad to hear some of our officers and volunteers have received verbal abuse while carrying out essential work in our towns and villages.

"They are working hard to keep critical services and support available at this time.

"For example, if you park across a loading bay or on double yellow lines, it may mean essential deliveries to a local pharmacy cannot be made or access for emergency service vehicles is severely restricted. That's why we are continuing to enforce these simple traffic regulations."

Fire Engines

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

"Our emergency services and key workers do not deserve to be abused in any way for simply doing their job.

"To be intentionally infected with this virus or harmed in any way is completely unacceptable.

"This has serious effects, not only on their health and well-being but that of their families and loved ones as well - and we will not tolerate this.

"My staff and the colleagues they work with deserve to be treated with respect at work, now and in the future."

SW Ambulance

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service, said:

"Any verbal, mental or physical assault against an emergency services staff member or key worker is completely unacceptable.

"Sadly we received 1330 incidents of violence and aggression towards our staff in the last year, which is an increase of 16% on the previous year.

"Unfortunately these incidents have continued during the COVID-19 crisis when our staff are working in an extremely challenging environment to protect and save lives."

Dorset Police is asking people to support the campaign by sharing their #Unacceptable posts on social media.

They are also reminding people to follow the national healthcare guidelines to stay at home unless necessary, respect social distancing and maintain good hygiene.