Dartford MP Gareth Johnson responds to shocking 43% rise in assaults on Kent emergency workers and says perpetrators should expect to go to prison

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has expressed his shock following the revelation that assaults on emergency workers have risen by 43% between March and October.

In a meeting with Kent MPs today, Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said between March and October of this year, there have been 570 more assaults on emergency workers, bringing the total to 1910.

Spitting and coughing at workers has been a particular issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 376 incidents in the same period, of which 284 incidents were against police officers. To date, 147 people have been charged in relation to these incidents.

Mr Johnson said: “This is a shocking rise in cases and anyone who does this should go to prison.

I am pleased that the courts are playing their part in dealing with these people, but we need to be absolutely clear that any assault on an emergency worker will lead to imprisonment. People must understand that the vile practice of spitting at PCSOs and police officers during this pandemic, means you won’t get bail, you won’t get a community penalty, you will be going to prison.  These people are there to protect us and the judicial system needs to protect them.

Kent Police is the best force in the country, but they need to be able to do their jobs without fear of being assaulted, so a zero tolerance, robust approach is vital.

This increase is both shocking and shameful and has to be met with an approach that leads to anyone assaulting the police knowing that prison is inevitable.”

Matthew Scott, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said “Any assault on an emergency worker is appalling and those committing these vile acts, including spitting, biting, threatening behaviour or violence, deserve the strongest prison sentences. I am providing as much help and support as I can to officers and staff to help keep them safe, including increasing TASER, supporting the use of spit and blood guards, new body worn video cameras and lobbying for longer sentences. I am pleased that Gareth Johnson MP is being proactive in supporting our brave Police Officers and Staff, who I know are grateful for his help.”