People Deliberately Coughing At Emergency And Essential Workers Could Face 12 Month Prison Sentence
Anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency workers could face serious criminal charges which are punishable with up to 12 months in prison, the Director of Public Prosecutions warned today (26 March).
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) intervention comes after reports in recent days of police, shop workers and vulnerable groups being deliberately coughed on by people claiming to have the disease.
A press release from the CPS read: "Such behaviour is illegal and assaults specifically against emergency workers are punishable by up to 12 months in prison."
Putting it bluntly, stop coughing on people.
Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, 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.
"Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop. The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties."
These new measures come after a number of cases had to be referred to UK courts.
Yesterday (25 March), Darren Rafferty admitted three counts of assaulting an emergency worker after claiming to have coronavirus and directing coughs at Metropolitan Police officers arresting him for another offence.
The 45-year-old from Dagenham, east London, will sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 1 April.
:x:STOP IT: The CPS is appalled by reports of police and others being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have coronavirus.
This is not only vile but illegal and we will not hesitate to prosecute people for it.
- CPS (@cpsuk) March 26, 2020
David Mott, 40, was jailed yesterday after threatening to spit at police in Blackburn who had asked him what he was doing out with two others after the Prime Minister's announcement of stricter social distancing rules on Monday night.
He was jailed for 26 weeks after being charged with possession of an offensive weapon, possession of a Class B drug and threatening behaviour.
In January, the CPS published new guidance strengthening its approach to assaults on emergency workers after analysis revealed it had prosecuted almost 20,000 cases since the legislation first came into force in November 2018.
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