Coronavirus cough attacks now deemed a crime

Anyone deliberately coughing on police officers and other key workers will now face serious criminal charges.

The warning comes after a number of arrests have been made across the UK for the offence, including an arrest made earlier this week in Leicester.

A report from the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales has confirmed essential workers are being coughed on by people claiming to have Coronavirus to scare them.

The incident in Leicester involved a drunk man who was arrested in the city centre after he was refused alcohol. 

Police were called to the store after the man deliberately coughed in the face of a security guard causing panic. He was arrested by officers at the scene.

Max Hill QC said he was “appalled” by the incidents and the full force of the law would be used.

Coughing or spitting at key workers, or even threatening to carry out such acts, can be considered a crime, leading towards a common assault charge.

Attacking emergency workers can carry a maximum sentence of two years in England and Wales.

Mr Hill said: “Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.”

“I am therefore appalled by reports of police officers and other frontline workers being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have Covid-19.”

Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable, Simon Cole, said: “This is an unprecedented time for everyone across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The challenge we’re facing is like no other in our 180-year history.”

“Officers have been given new powers to help keep people safe. As your Chief Constable I would like to make a pledge to you. In return, I ask for your support.”

“Every officer at Leicestershire Police knows this as our duty – to protect the people and deal with those who cause harm. We do this by engaging with our communities, explaining and problem solving, and enforcing the law through action when we must.”

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