Tougher sentences should be imposed on those who deliberately spit, cough or sneeze on police in a bid to infect them with Covid-19, the body which represents rank and file officers has insisted.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) branded such incidents as being “disgusting and unpleasant” – and said that the coronavirus pandemic meant they brought a “new level of risk”.
However, Caroline Macnaughton, the SPF’s north area deputy secretary, said that “too often people convicted of such incidents don’t get the sentence they deserve”.
She spoke out as the justice and social affairs magazine 1919 reported there were at least 13 incidents of people deliberately coughing, sneezing or spitting at officers in the first three months of this year – when a second wave of the virus hit Scotland.
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable, Fiona Taylor, told the magazine: “Officers and staff work with dedication and a commitment to helping people and violence and abuse against them is utterly deplorable and unacceptable. It is not simply part of the job and will not be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, Ms Macnaughton told 1919: “It has been made clear by the chief constable of Police Scotland in his pledge that violence and abusive behaviour against police officers won’t be tolerated.
“But the courts don’t seem to have that view, and too often people convicted of such incidents don’t get the sentence they deserve.
“These statistics show the act of coughing, sneezing and spitting on officers is being used by criminals in targeted assaults.
“The act is disgusting and unpleasant and has always carried the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
“However, with the pandemic, there is another new level of risk and that is something those who do it are well aware of.”