West Yorkshire Police officers were assaulted 160 times in March – with offenders spitting at them and biting them as they try to protect their communities during the Covid-19 crisis.
Force figures show 160 assaults took place despite a Government lockdown starting on 23 March.
During the month there were 25 incidents of officers being spat at and 14 of them being bitten.
Six officers were spat at in the last week of March alone, as the force started to record specific coronavirus-related incidents.
West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth said spitting at and coughing on officers had widespread implications.
Brian said: “It’s of grave concern that my colleagues, both police officers and police staff, have had a spike of assaults in relation to being spat at.
“These attacks come at a time when these particular assaults could have a deadly consequence and a devastating effect on frontline resilience.
“There is some good news, in that the Sentencing Council has published its latest guidance around assaulting emergency workers, with much stronger sentences for those committing this type of offence.”
Throughout March officers also reported that they were kicked 47 times, punched 36 times, forcibly pushed 24 times and suffered four assaults with knives or other sharp objects.
In total 160 assaults were reported, even though the last week of the month was spent in lockdown. In 2018/19, an average of 140 assaults took place every month, when more people were out on the streets.
Officers across England and Wales have been subjected to “weaponised” coronavirus assaults where people have coughed or spat at them and claimed they had the virus.
Speaking on LBC Radio, Police Federation of England and Wales Chair John Apter said: “These are the sort of vile, disgusting individuals that my colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis.
“Those who weaponise this virus deserve every day they spend in prison. It’s disgusting, and they need to be made an example of.”
Date posted: May 3, 2020