Vaccine plea as Norfolk Police officer tells of being spat at by man 'who claimed to have coronavirus'
A Norfolk Police officer who was spat at by a suspect who claimed to have coronavirus has called for the government to make his profession a higher vaccine priority.
The plea comes barely 24 hours after the county's police and crime commissioner, Lorne Green, renewed his demand for even tougher sentences on criminals who attack police.
The officer, whose identity has not been disclosed, spoke out in a statement issued through the Norfolk Police Federation this afternoon.
The officer, a Sergeant, said he had been among five officers from the Norfolk force's Operation Moonshot who were spat at during the incident.
The operation targets crime on the county's road networks and has been active in West Norfolk in recent weeks.
All of them are now having to self-isolate as they wait to find out if they have the virus or not.
The Sgt said: “Luckily it felt like the spit missed me, but it went onto the other officers with me, on a female officer’s hair and in another officer’s face.
"But you’re still in a close environment and you don’t know if any of the droplets have gone into your eyes.
“It’s just disgusting. He said he had Covid-19 and he was coughing in the back of the police car. We’re just waiting now and they’re going to find out if he is actually Covid-19 positive.
“It’s a nightmare, the team is worried, they’re anxious and questioning whether they’ve got Covid-19.
“It’s just awful. You can’t go on patrol in full PPE because you’d have to change it every time you stop a car. We’re a proactive unit and we’re stopping cars all the time. We’re doing a lot of work around county lines, so we are mixing with people from different areas.
“I’ve been in this job 21 years and I’ve been spat at a few times, and it’s never nice. It’s the lowest of the low.
“You’re thinking to yourself, it’s not just me that this affects, it affects my family too. I can’t go out of the house, I have to consider where I’m staying in the house because I don’t want to give it to somebody else if I do have it.”
The Sgt said he would feel “a million per cent” more confident doing his job if he was vaccinated. He said that his team had entered a house recently where the occupants later told them they had Covid-19. He said: “These people are unpredictable.
He continued: “I cannot understand, we are a 24-hour resource, you could probably get the whole force vaccinated in less than 24 hours. I don’t get why we are being left behind.”
Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds said: “Police officers can’t ‘distance’ from the public on duty. Dealing with these types of horrible incidents - as we do each and every day - puts our colleagues at an extremely heightened risk.
“This is why it's so important that police officers and frontline staff receive the Covid-19 vaccine as a matter of urgency.
“Throughout this pandemic we have been at work having to arrest people who don’t want to be arrested and therefore they assault us. We’ve seen a rise in the abhorrent act of spitting at officers by people who claim to have, or actually have, Covid-19.
“It is simply morally right for this Government to come forward with proposals on how they will vaccinate police officers to protect them and their families. In turn the police service can then continue to police and keep our communities safe.”