Increase in assaults on Sussex police officers during Covid-19 pandemic
Sussex’s Deputy Chief Constable has described an increase in assaults on police officers and other emergency workers during the coronavirus pandemic as ‘sickening’.
The comments from Jo Shiner come as news that Sussex Police has recorded a 39% increase against officers. PCSOs and other emergency workers in April compared to the same period last year – with an increasing number linked to Covid-19.
In all, 169 offences were recorded against frontline officers and staff* in the first four weeks of the lock down. These included officers being punched, kicked, bitten, spat and coughed on and threats to infect the officers and their families.
Last weekend, eight police officers and a PCSO across Sussex reported assaults including:
A man from Brighton who said he had Covid-19 and coughed in the officers face when he was arrested for possession of cocaine.
An officer who was bitten on the finger by a man fined for being out under Covid-19 legislation in Littlehampton.
In two other incidents in Brighton officers were kicked, grabbed, spat at and racially abused.
Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “It is absolutely sickening that police officers, staff and other emergency workers, putting themselves in harm’s way every day to help others, are being faced with violence and the threat of contamination.
“I have spoken to a number of injured officers over the past month and know how traumatising this is, both for the officers and their families, worried about the consequences.
“I have no doubt the vast majority of people will be equally appalled and agree that anyone putting public service workers in harms way during this crisis, or indeed at any time, deserve the harshest of sentences.”
In Sussex, 122 assaults against police officers were recorded between 23 March and 28 April, an increase of 58% compared with the same period last year.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I’m appalled that the women and men on the frontline of this crisis are being threatened with the virus that they are working so hard every day to protect us against.
“Let me be clear, coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke. It is a crime and you will face harsh consequences.
“Whilst most people are behaving responsibly to help our emergency services, a few individuals are continuing to act selfishly. In many ways this pandemic has already brought out the very best in our communities but where it brings out the worst, offenders will be swiftly brought to justice.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that such behaviour could constitute common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically were punishable by up to two years in prison.
Man identified in Lewes appeal
Police are appealing for information about the assault of a teenage boy in Lewes on Sunday, April 19.
Officers were called to reports of an altercation in Brighton Road around 11.45am.
The victim was walking with his mother and sister along Brighton Road, between Houndean Rise and Southdown Avenue, when they passed another family - a man, woman, and a girl and a boy aged under 10 - riding bicycles.
An argument broke out, during which the 16-year-old boy was assaulted. He suffered minor injuries.
Police would also like to speak to anyone who witnessed the altercation, including the driver and passenger of a Vauxhall Cavalier that stopped in the road at the time.
Anyone who has information about the incident, is asked to contact police online or call 101 quoting serial 1320 of 19/04.
A man featured in an appeal in regard to the assault has made himself known to police.
Keep Your Online Social Life Secure
Has your child been having house parties, not the physical kind with broken vases and stained carpets but the online sort?
Apps that enable young people to socialise online have become a lifeline for keeping in touch with friends at this time.
But there have been increasing reports of zoom bombing in both Zoom and Houseparty apps where the call is hacked, sometimes with indecent images.
Where children of all ages are off school and wanting to catch up with their friends on their own phones, or using their mum’s or dad’s, it can pose a real risk.
So no matter whether your child is 5 or 15, here are a few tips from us:
📱 Make sure your child only shares the meeting link with people they know.
📱It’s always smart to lock your front door, so lock the meeting room when you are in it.
📱Let your children know that if they are the host, they can turn off someone’s video at any time.
📱It’s a good idea to set random meeting IDs, to stop people crashing into your child’s virtual space.
📱Zoom have something called the Waiting Room which allows hosts to control who comes and goes.
We deal with all reports of this nature incredibly seriously. So if your child reports anything like this, please tell us.
Be Vigilant against Scams and Fraud
Beware of fraudsters that may try to call or knock on your door offering to test you for Covid-19.
We have received a report from the carer of an elderly gentleman who received a phone call to say someone would be coming to test him for Covid-19.
Please make elderly relatives aware that these are scams. Hang up or close the door immediately.
Now, more than ever, we want to remind you to:
➡️ Check people are who they say they are when they phone you
➡️ Never send money or financial details to anyone who you don’t know or don’t trust
➡️ Keep your personal information to yourself
➡️ Make decisions in your own time – don’t be rushed
➡️ Phone a relative or friend for help or advice
If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud: http://orlo.uk/JN99r. Any suspicious emails can also be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is your outbuilding secure?
Despite the lockdown making it easier for everyone to spot suspicious activity, we are still getting reports of sheds and outbuildings being broken into.
If you are spending the weekend clearing out the shed, take a couple of extra moments to help prevent your tools being stolen while you are at it.
⛏️ Pick a time when you are sure you will finish the job in a day – it’s very tempting to leave the tools and bikes on the lawn overnight and “finish it off tomorrow” – but that is going to be very tempting for the burglars as well!
🔧 It’s a wrench… but consider splashing some paint on your tools – ugly tools are going to be easier to identify, and harder to sell! Take a photo of your “artwork” and keep it just in case they are stolen.
🖊️ Take down ID, model and serial numbers from your gear. If you can easily list and describe stolen items, we have a much better chance of returning them to you if we find them.
❗ Clamp down on the burglars by reinforcing the shed security – if you can, repair any holes or damage. If you’ve got spare locks, chain or rope, use them to reinforce the shed security – if your shed looks looked after, or harder to enter, the burglar will look elsewhere.
🌾 Be a grass!. If you see or hear something suspicious, let us know – report it! If a crime is in progress, 999. If it has already happened report it online.
Find out more about protecting your shed, garage and out buildings on our website: http://orlo.uk/0GyUB
Police tackle crime as they keep people safe during lockdown
With the announcement of 348 fines having been issued across the county for breaches of new public health regulations, Sussex Police confirms enforcement is the absolute last resort.
Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “We empathise with the public and understand how difficult it is at this time. We will continue our policing approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging and only then as an absolute last resort we will enforce. We do not want to criminalise people who we know are under pressure unless we have to.
“It is important that our relationship with the public continues to be one of trust and confidence, and on my patrol in Brighton yesterday it was pleasing to hear people speak positively about how we are engaging with them to keep them safe. We are so grateful to the vast majority of the public who are supporting us by staying home.
“Our enforcement in relation to some crimes has, if anything, ramped up. We are seeing significant impacts in relation to drugs offences, county lines, violence and we are having a visible policing presence in rural areas in relation to thefts and burglaries. We also continue to police our roads effectively, identifying people who are drink and drug driving, speeding and driving in an anti-social way.
“We are seeing significant results in relation to these crimes and we continue that enforcement action 24/7 making sure we are locking up criminals and protecting the public. In many of the cases, people we have found to be committing offences have also been given tickets for breaching lockdown restrictions.”
Visitors making non-essential journeys from outside the county to Sussex’s coastal and rural beauty spots are among those receiving Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) since the measures were introduced five weeks ago. They are not welcome during the coronavirus lockdown.
Latest figures show 189 FPNs were issued in the past two weeks, of which 43 were on Sunday alone (April 26) as many people travelled to the county on day trips, including a number of families from London visiting Camber Sands and Winchelsea Beach for 'fresh air'.
The issuing of fines still remains the exception however, with the majority of people complying with the restrictions or responding positively to police engagement – fine accounts for just one in 4,896 of the population.
DCC Shiner said: "Our policing approach during the lockdown has not changed. We are still patrolling, we are still engaging with the public and we are still taking enforcement action when it is absolutely necessary to do so.
"We understand the frustrations of the public and we appreciate this is a very difficult time for everyone, but now is not the time to stop following the guidance, now is the time to stick with it.
"Last weekend we saw an increasing number of people travelling into Sussex from outside the county and it’s not on. There will be plenty of time for a day trip to Sussex but that time is not now.”
As well as thanking members of the public who are following the guidelines and staying home, Sussex Police is also highlighting the work of the Special Constabulary – its volunteer police officers who, alongside police officers and PCSOs, are working on the frontline.
Specials have contributed 410 shifts - a total of 3,411 hours - of their own spare time to support this national effort since the lockdown was put in place.
The force also has 61 student police officers currently undergoing a condensed nine-week training course, adapted for current conditions, who will be ready to deploy in June with dedicated coaches as part of the Government’s on-going programme to recruit additional police officers.
999 and 101 call rates for the past month remain lower than the same period last year, at around 25% and 14% less respectively, but online reports have tripled driven by the public reporting breaches of the current measures.
Encouraging the reporting of domestic abuse and ensuring any victims can receive help and support during this period remains a policing priority.
DCC Shiner added: "In the past two weeks, we have started to see an upwards trend in domestic violence crimes following a dip and we expect this to rise further when lockdown measures are eased or modified.
“We have adapted to ensure we can support people at risk and find them a safe space. We will always pursue offenders.”
Some of the specific measures in place include:
dedicated ‘domestic abuse’ cars across Sussex, responding to medium risk incidents. Emergency response officers will always respond quickly to high risk incidents.
a new specialist team able to deal with any non-urgent cases by appointment and this has included a new video appointment service where conversations can’t take place face to face.
the launch this week of domestic abuse awareness at local supermarkets, with high profile signage at entrances and take-away information, complementing an online campaign.
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call police on 999. If you can’t talk because the perpetrator is nearby, you can press the numbers ‘55’ into your mobile phone which will alert the operator of your circumstances.
The Sussex Safe Space website provides a directory of help and support available near you.
A burglary occurred in the evening of 26/04/2020 on Hundred Acre Lane, whereby a container was broken into and a quadbike stolen from within (
A burglary occurred in the early hours of the morning on 28/04/2020 on West Street, Ditchling, whereby a barn was broken into and various tools were stolen from within (Ref: 47200070444)
A burglary occurred during the day on 29/04/2020 on Horsham Avenue, Peacehaven whereby a garage was broken into and piping was stolen from within (Ref: 47200071337)
A burglary occurred between 29/04/2020 and 30/04/2020 on Drove Road, Newhaven, whereby a commercial premises was broken into (Ref: 47200071571) Help us keep Sussex safe
If you saw or heard anything, or have any information about any incident in this message please contact us online, email us at email@example.com or call 101, quoting the reference number provided.
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
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