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North Wales Police and Crime Panel chair claims assaults on emergency workers ‘most common coronavirus related crimes’

THE head of a police oversight committee has claimed “spitting and coughing” at officers has helped make assaults on emergency workers the most common pandemic crime.

Pat Astbury, chairwoman of North Wales Police and Crime Panel (PCP) made the remark when asking assistant chief constable Richard Debicki to pass on the committee’s thanks for the work police staff have done during the crisis.

A recent survey by the police federation found 28% of North Wales Police officers believed they had contracted coronavirus during the pandemic.

More than 40% of those believed they caught it at work and 29% per cent reported they had become unwell with Covid-19 after being assaulted in the line of duty by someone infected with the virus.

Officers also said they had been frequently exposed to incidents placing them at risk of physical and/or psychological harm, with 16% stating they had suffered one or more injuries requiring medical attention due to work-related violence in the pandemic.

Mark Jones, general secretary of the North Wales Police Federation, renewed his calls for police officers to be prioritised for the Covid vaccines.

Ms Astbury told the meeting:

“There have been countless incidents of officers being coughed or spat upon.

“Assaults on emergency workers have become the most common coronavirus -related crimes. It’s totally unacceptable.

“I want to give thanks to all the staff who have continued to work throughout the pandemic.”

Ms Astbury also paid tribute to outgoing crime commissioner Arfon Jones, in what could be his last PCP meeting before stepping down.

She said:

“This may be our police and crime commissioner’s last meeting. I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all his work and dedication to the role over the last five years.

“Arfon has made a valuable contribution to many aspects of the work of the PCC.

“For example modern-day slavery, child exploitation and domestic violence to name but three. Diolch o Galon Arfon.”

The PCC election will take place on May 7 at the same time as the Welsh Government elections.

His former deputy Ann Griffith has thrown her hat in the ring to become Plaid’s candidate in the forthcoming election, taking over from the retiring commissioner.

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