During the last year throughout the ongoing lock down periods, the latest trend that developed was to use Covid as a weapon against emergency service workers.
Frontline police officers who did not have the ability to work from home, were challenged on a daily basis with the ‘I’ve got Covid’ and purposely coughing and even more repulsively spitting on them. These incidents became a regular occurrence for our police officers and key workers, who still went out to work whilst the country locked itself down.
Assaults on police officers is something we are used to seeing. Officers injured whilst doing their job isn’t something that shocks Joe public anymore as our level of de-sensitisation thanks to social media is high.
Due to this, the Metropolitan Police set up ‘Operation Hampshire’ in 2015 to supports its officers both physically and mentally after any form of assault. Not only did the force pull out all the stops to support their staff but actively encourage that any form of abuse against them is reported.
Inspector Stuart Kohring based at New Scotland Yard, is the Met police’s lead on Op Hampshire.
“The operation has been going for six years, but it was refreshed in 2019 with a specific team of officers.
“We have seen a 20% rise in assaults on officers, we believe that this is because our officers are reporting it now as they know they will be looked after.”
Sadly, nationally assaults on officers are 30% under reported compared what they should be. One of the reasons why the Met has specifically pushed Op Hampshire to support its staff during these unprecedented times the capital has seen.
“Since April 2020 we have put into place extra well being for our officers due to the weaponisation of Covid. People who cough and spit at them stating they have Covid.
“It was a huge challenge for us at first as we did not know about Covid and just how dangerous it was. Our officers went out there daily and were potentially looking at death sentences.
“We have made every effort possible to support their welfare. We show our staff how seriously we take these assaults and how thoroughly we investigate them. The Crown Prosecution Service are equally, massively behind us.
“Two thirds of people who coughed and spat at them have faced prison sentences.”
And so they should. Covid has killed many across the country and the world, to use it as a weapon against people who are serving the community and putting their life at risk everyday for us is one of the vilest acts imaginable.
So when an officer is assaulted, we ask Inspector Kohring, what happens next?
“The first thing we do is ask the officer to report it to their line manager. We check if they need to go to hospital and make sure a colleague brings them there and stays with them whilst we notify their next of kin.
“A thorough investigation then takes places. We re use body worn video and make sure an officer get’s their statement.”
The hard work the Met have put in to support their officers was recently praised at the National Police Chiefs Council where they won an award and have prompted other forces nationwide to follow suit.
“We do our best to make sure the perpetrators are held to account and something is done about it.”
Let us remember that these officers regardless of peoples views are always there in our community, always there to respond to the worst incidents possible in our society, always there when that call is made. Assaulting them whilst they do their job is never going to be acceptable.
Inspector Kohring finishes:
“It is not part of their job, we know it’s going to happen but it doesn’t make it right. Ultimately these officers are heroes.”
Now is the time to also mention how a police dog and a police officer faced weeks off work after being attacked by a man with a knife in south London.
Police Dog Kaiser was on patrol with his handler, PC Mark Woolcott, at 11pm on Sunday, 30 May when they were called to a report of an intruder in the back garden of a house in Orpington.
The pair responded alongside other officers and started a search of the area. They found a man down a track behind the house.
As Kaiser tried to subdue the man, he was stabbed up to five times on the top of his head and once below his eye.
Despite the attack, Kaiser was able to keep control of the man for long enough to allow officers to take hold of him.
He was rushed to the vets where thankfully the blows to the top of his head were found to have struck bone, narrowly avoiding lasting injury, or worse.
He required stitches and was kept in overnight for observation but made a full recovery.
In the struggle that followed the attack on Kaiser, another officer sustained a broken wrist and was off work for up to a month.
This incident goes to show the nightmare conditions our officers and police dogs face daily protecting our community.
Police officers are people who have chosen to make a difference in our society by serving the community, and putting the lives of others before ours.
Everyday these officers make a difference to somebody’s life, everyday they help a person in desperate need, they are heroes.
If you are interested in joining the Met Police, please see below for their recruitment program.
Find out how to start your career in the Met at www.met.police.uk/careers
Serving Met police officers from a range of diverse backgrounds and circumstances are sharing their personal stories in an effort to encourage more Black, Asian and Multiple Ethnic Heritage people to join the Met as a police constable or a detective.
This campaign is the latest in recruitment efforts which follow bold steps announced by the Met earlier this year to improve further the trust and confidence of communities – particularly Black communities – and the recruitment aspirations announced by the Commissioner Cressida Dick, that Black, Asian and Multiple Ethnic Heritage officers will make up 40% of all new officers recruited from April 2022.