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Key workers' video plea targets assaults on frontline staff

April 30, 2020
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Key workers from across Nottinghamshire have come together following a spate of over 60 incidents where frontline workers have been coughed on or spat at while on the frontline of dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.

A video has been launched by doctors, nurses, paramedics, police officers, prison officers, firefighters and other frontline workers from across the county as they continue to work hard to spearhead the nationwide response to the outbreak.

Nottinghamshire Police has so far investigated 61 incidents of key workers being coughed on or spat at during the five-week period from Friday 20 March – just before the nationwide lockdown began – and Monday 27 April.

The video, which asks that people treat key workers with respect, has been backed by a promise from the senior police officer coordinating Nottinghamshire Police’s response to the outbreak that those putting the health and wellbeing of the county’s key workers at risk can expect the harshest possible treatment.

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “The vast majority of the public are pulling together and are doing everything they can – despite how frustrating we know that can be for them – to follow the government advice to stay at home and help save lives as the country continues to deal with the outbreak.

“Throughout this time, key workers in the NHS, fire service, police and other essential public services have been selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way and spending precious time away from their loved ones to protect the communities they serve.

“These assaults – which have included frontline staff being coughed on, spat at and violently assaulted – have been committed at a time when they are working hard to protect the public they are proud to serve.

“I find it abhorrent that anyone would ever think to spit or cough at an emergency worker and my message to those essential key workers is clear that Nottinghamshire Police, their fellow keyworkers and the majority of the Nottinghamshire are right behind you as we work to defeat the virus together.”

So far, 33 people have been charged in connection with the assaults and a number of people have already been convicted – including Paul Leivers 48, of Tideswell Court, Mansfield, who was sentenced to 12 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to spitting on two Nottinghamshire Police custody officers.

The case was the first of its kind in Nottinghamshire since the government’s ‘stay at home’ advice was introduced and saw Leivers receive the highest possible sentence for the offence of assaulting an emergency worker.

A number of more violent assaults have also been reported in the county, including the case of 29-year old Nelson Nelson from the West Midlands who was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this week after he assaulted a number of police officers and a police dog after being challenged over whether his journey from Nottingham Train Station was essential.

“Key workers are putting themselves at risk every day to help keep the public safe and I – along with the vast majority of the county we serve – cannot be more thankful of their efforts,” added Mr Guildford.

“These cases show that those suspected of committing such acts against frontline staff who are working hard to protect us have and will continued to be robustly dealt with and that those keyworkers have our absolute support.”

The coughing and spitting assaults have continued during the lockdown, with a number of offenders maliciously claiming to have contracted the virus before committing the assaults.

Over 60 per cent (38) of the incidents investigated by the force have targeted police officers and staff in the course of their duties – something which the head of the body which represents almost all frontline police officers in the county has labelled ‘despicable’.

Mark Petrovic, Chairman of the Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said: “It is despicable that offenders are arming themselves with this virus and using it against our officers.

“However, I am proud to see Notts cops taking firm and positive action in arresting and prosecuting these individuals.

“It is also good to see that our courts are also taking a strong stance on the issue and sending offenders straight to prison for these specific assaults.

“This sends out a strong message of support for police officers in these difficult times and should deter other persons and make them think twice before copying these repulsive actions.”

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping added: “Emergency workers are very brave people doing a difficult job - day in, day out.

“Abusing or assaulting police officers, staff, or other emergency service worker is always unacceptable, but at the current time it is shocking.

“It’s important that those who commit these offences know that will not be tolerated. The force takes assaults of this nature very seriously and will work closely with the courts to bring those responsible to justice.

“It’s understandable that tensions and anxiety are running high during this pandemic and I’m grateful to the vast majority who are heeding the restriction with grace and tolerance. There is no excuse for those who take their frustration out on others.

“As frontline workers, they are out there every day working to keep us safe. They deserve the highest respect and should be commended for what they are doing.  I thank them all.”

The video message has been launched on social media as part of a coordinated effort by public bodies from across Nottinghamshire to take a zero tolerance approach on assaults targeting the county’s key workers.

The campaign has already received support from the NHS, Nottinghamshire Police, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, East Midlands Ambulance Service, the Ministry of Justice, a number of the county’s local authorities and other bodies.

The video itself features key workers talking about their keyworker roles, as well as telling the story of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters behind the uniform and shedding light on the effects that the assaults have had on their loved ones.

Watch the video:

Are you with us? A message from Nottinghamshire's key workers

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