Criminals are using coronavirus as a weapon against police, senior officer says

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A senior policeman has said that suspects are using coronavirus ‘as a weapon’ against officers.

It follows two separate incidents on Saturday in which Essex Police constables were coughed at while responding to reports of crime.

The force said officers were also kicked and spat on after attending an alleged assault in Leigh-on-Sea, while others were coughed at and bitten as they made an arrest in Ongar hours later.

Assistant chief constable Paul Wells said: ‘Unbelievably, this weekend we have seen suspects using the Covid-19 virus as a weapon against officers – who, in these incredibly challenging times, continue in their duty to keep the community safe.

‘In just a 12-hour period, we had officers who had been kicked, spat and coughed at after responding to emergency calls from shop workers, who were also just doing their job.’

A man has appeared in court in connection with Saturday’s incident in Leigh-on-Sea, in which police were called to reports of an assault on a shop worker at a Tesco Express store.