IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Police are ready to take down coronavirus spitters

Spit hood and Tasers will be used if needed to keep officers safe

29 May, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Borough Commander Raj Kohli

POLICE are concerned about the level of spitting that officers and other public workers have faced during the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli, the borough commander, warned he would do what was needed to protect members of his force after two of his officers were spat at in the face on Friday.

The officers from the Somers Town ward team were attacked while attending a call, with one officer needing hospital treatment to check for infectious diseases. A man was arrested at the scene.

Chief Supt Kohli said: “I am really worried about it. Why should anyone, whether that’s police officers, bus drivers or any other public worker or member of the public, be spat at? In what world is that acceptable? It’s really disgusting. “I just don’t understand this spitting frenzy that’s happened since the pandemic.”

There have been several spitting incidents in Camden since the outbreak began where individuals have also claimed to have coronavirus, and hundreds of similar reports around the country.

“Of course we’ve had people spitting at officers before now, it’s a phenomenon that started about three to five years ago. But it feels even more offensive now,” said Chief Supt Kohli.

“Really it’s more offensive than punching someone, although that’s more dangerous. Symbolically, spitting at someone is the most offensive thing you can do, it’s really quite disgusting and potentially very, very dangerous..”

“It could kill someone if you give them Hep C, Hep B or even the coronavirus,” he added. “I don’t want to have to issue orders to use spit hoods or Tasers. I don’t enjoy doing it but I will do what I need to to keep my officers and the public safe.”

And he warned anyone found guilty could expect to get a one-year prison sentence.

Camden Town inspector Richard Berns said: “I don’t know if it’s happening more, but it certainly feels worse at the moment because there’s greater risk of infection and I think members of the public will understand that.”

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