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Sussex PCC: Coronavirus threats made to frontline workers will not be tolerated

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Peter Davy who claimed he was infected with coronavirus and spat at officers in Brighton.

“I’m appalled that the women and men on the frontline of this crisis are being threatened with the virus that they are working so hard every day to protect us against. Let me be clear, coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke. It is a crime and you will face the consequences.”

This was the strong message made by National Chair of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC) and Sussex PCC, Katy Bourne following the sentencing today of a man in Sussex who spat in three officer’s faces, claiming to have infected them with the virus. 

Sussex Police said they received a report of criminal damage at a block of flats in Albion Street, Brighton about 5.50pm on Saturday (28th March).

While responding to the incident, three officers were spat at by a man claiming to be infected with Coronavirus. 

This incident led to the arrest of Peter Davy, 65, who was then charged with three counts of assaulting an emergency worker, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence; and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

This is just one of many reports of threatening assaults that have been made nationally over the last week. 

APCC Chair Katy Bourne has spoken out today making it clear that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated: “I’m appalled that the women and men on the frontline of this crisis are being threatened with the virus that they are working so hard every day to protect us against. 

“Let me be clear, coughing or spitting at an emergency worker and claiming to have Covid-19 will not be treated as some sort of practical joke. It is a crime and you will face the consequences.

“Whilst most people are behaving responsibly to help our emergency services, a few individuals are continuing to act selfishly. In many ways this pandemic has already brought out the very best in our communities but where it brings out the worst, as we have seen today, offenders will be swiftly brought to justice.”

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that such behaviour could constitute common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically were punishable by up to two years in prison.

At today’s hearing in Brighton Magistrates court, Mr Davy pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and forced to pay three counts of £50 compensation.

Max Hill QC, the director of public prosecutions, said: “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.”

Coronavirus

Powerful viruscide used across Southern Rails stations and trains to kill Coronavirus

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Govia Thameslink Railway’s entire fleet of Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains, plus stations and staff areas have been treated with a powerful new viruscide which sticks to surfaces, killing the Coronavirus for up to 30 days.

The product further improves GTR’s already-enhanced cleaning regime, in which stations and staff areas are treated with more short-term viruscides, and all 2,700 of its train carriages are sanitised every night.

While the current advice remains to only use public transport if you absolutely have to, the product provides another layer of protection for passengers who do need to travel such as key workers and staff who are valiantly supporting the national effort on the front line.

To help support everyone’s focus on keeping their hands clean, GTR has also ordered 1,000 no-touch hand sanitisers for staff and passengers which are being distributed to stations. 

A specially-developed app also tells staff at-a-glance when each train carriage was last cleaned with the long-lasting viruscide.

Engineering Director Steve Lammin said:

“Since the outbreak of this pandemic we have been doing all we can to protect our passengers and staff by ensuring our trains, and stations have enhanced cleaning regimes, and a switch in focus to high-touch areas and the increased use of anti-viral agents.

“We are now using a product that will kill Coronavirus for up to 30 days and we are applying this to surfaces across our network on a 21-day cycle. We want to do everything possible to work with passengers and staff to keep them safe and this will further protect everyone who is working so hard for this country.”

Electrostatic ‘wands’ (pictured and on video) have been used around stations and staff areas and GTR is deploying ‘Storm’ virus-killer backpacks which were used in NHS Nightingale Hospitals, as they cover large areas quickly. On trains, the new product needs to be applied traditionally with a microfibre cloth. In all locations, it is applied only after the entire surface area has been thoroughly cleaned and degreased.

Stations, trains and staff areas were already receiving enhanced cleans through additional extra staff, new 24-hour viruscide products and a switch to focus attention on passenger and staff touchpoints. Use of the 30-day viruscide will help GTR renew its focus on out of reach places to further improve the appearance of trains.

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