Public should be 'disgusted' by rise in assaults on police in North Yorkshire during lockdown
People should be "disgusted" by a sharp rise in assaults on police officers during the coronavirus lockdown, North Yorkshire's police, fire and crime commissioner has said.
Attacks have increased by almost 60 per cent since late March, according to figures, with officers reporting a trend of biting and spitting among offenders.
In the Harrogate district, incidents include officers being bitten, grabbed by the throat, and kicked in the head and chest.
One officer was also bitten and spat at, and another was hospitalised after being kicked in the face.
North Yorkshire Police chief constable Lisa Winward slammed the attacks as “sickening and wrong" and her calls for officers to be treated with more respect have been echoed by commissioner Julia Mulligan.
"We should all be disgusted by this increase in assaults," Ms Mulligan said.
"Police officers and staff put themselves on the frontline, run towards danger and keep us safe."
"They deserve respect and support and I echo the chief constable’s vow to deal with offenders robustly."
Since late March, 87 assaults against North Yorkshire Police officers and staff have been reported.
During the same period in 2019, the number was 55 - a rise of 58 per cent.
In August alone, there were 21 reported offences.
Six officers were punched in the face during different incidents, with at least two suffering black eyes and facial injuries.
An officer was kicked in the side of his head and another had to attend hospital for tests after someone spat in their eye.
An officer’s hand was bitten, and two other officers were bitten on the knee.
Several other officers were spat on, an officer was head-butted in her nose, and another officer was stabbed in the hand with a pen in custody.
Both chief constable Lisa Winward and Ms Mulligan have vowed that anyone who assaults a police worker will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.
“Throughout the pandemic, officers and staff across the force have been showing a level of commitment, diligence and professionalism that is nothing short of incredible," the chief constable previously said.
“Some colleagues have made significant personal sacrifices so they can continue to serve the public, such as not living with their families.
“So these assaults reflect a deplorable attitude to those who are making a great sacrifice to serve their communities.
“If you assault an emergency services worker, you will be dealt with robustly to the full extent of the law. It’s that simple.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter