GMP thanks members of the public for their kindness but condemns assaults on emergency workers during Covid-19 response.
Throughout the ongoing response to Covid-19, GMP officers and staff have been on the receiving end of a number of random acts of kindness by members of the public across Greater Manchester.
However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, there have been a number of incidents during which emergency workers have been assaulted.
The video footage shows a man being arrested in Manchester City Centre after they were called out to an incident on 31 March 2020, as the man was being cuffed he coughed repeatedly at the officers face.
He was subsequently charged. On Thursday 30 April 2020, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one count of assault of an emergency worker and was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment.
Between Monday 23 March 2020 and Wednesday 13 May 2020, Greater Manchester Police has recorded more than 170 assaults on emergency workers. Many of these incidents have resulted in charges and could result in custodial sentences.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said:
“During this unprecedented time, police officers are fulfilling their regular duties to fight crime and protect people across Greater Manchester, whilst assisting partner agencies to manage the increased demand on their services. I would like to thank the vast majority of people who are supporting us by complying with the Government’s restrictions and, also, carrying out random acts of kindness.
“Unfortunately, there have been a number of assaults on police officers and colleagues across the emergency services – some have been physically injured whilst others have been spat on/ coughed at, in some cases by individuals claiming to have Covid-19. This is disgusting behaviour. Police officers, paramedics and firefighters are working especially hard to protect people at this time and should not be subjected to assaults of any kind.”
PC Stephen Prestage, of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said:
“It’s a challenging time to be a police officer but our morale has been boosted by random acts of kindness by local residents and businesses – from receiving home-made cards to free hot meals whilst on duty.
“However, I am speaking from experience when I say that being assaulted on the job is discouraging. Not only can it hinder our efforts to fight crime and protect people but, throughout the ongoing response to Covid-19, it can also result in us having to isolate from our families.”
Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at North West Ambulance Service, said:
“Our emergency services staff are working exceptionally hard right now during very challenging circumstances. The response from the public throughout the pandemic has been phenomenal and we have been blown away by the support we have received.
“Sadly though, there have been occasions where staff have been subject to nasty and violent attacks. It’s absolutely unacceptable and I would like to send a clear message that this will not be tolerated. Emergency services staff come to work to help those who need us the most and they should be free to do so without fear of assault.
“We will always support our staff and push for prosecutions.
“Now, more than ever, we must stand together and support each other.”