Attacks on London police officers rose almost 40% during coronavirus lockdown

Police officers in London were assaulted almost 40% more than normal during the coronavirus lockdown.

New data from Metropolitan Police show there were 2,027 assaults on officers recorded between May and July — a 38% increase on the same period in 2019.

One explanation for the inflated number of attacks this summer was the large number of high-profile protests in London, from Black Lives Matter demonstrations to far-right rallies to "anti-lockdown" protests held by Covid-19 conspiracy theorists.

Many of these events culminated into violent confrontations between participants and police.

Yesterday a 31-year-old man was jailed for two years after he shoved a female police officer down some stairs during a June 13 demonstration that claimed to be about defending London statues from being defaced by Black Lives Matter protesters.

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The officer is still undergoing physiotherapy for her injury in the event, during which five other officers were also wounded.

London also saw a significant number of unlicensed music events in recent months, most of which were doubly illegal because of social distancing measures prohibiting large gatherings.

Met Police's figures included virus-related assaults, a whole new category of offending.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been many instances of members of the public claiming to have Covid-19 before spitting or coughing on officers.

In the 12 months to the end of July 2020, 6,668 Metropolitan Police officers were assaulted, a 16% increase compared with the previous year.

Chief Inspector Dave Brewster, who leads the Met's plan for dealing with officer assaults, said: "It is clear that assaults on police officers and staff are increasing year-on-year and the impact this has on our profession cannot and should not be underestimated.

"Assaults should never be seen as part of the job and officers should be able to go about their work without fear of abuse or attack. However we know that is not always the reality.

"The impact can have long-term effects on the individual that may not always be apparent and are not always physical."

The Government recently consulted on doubling the maximum jail sentence for those convicted of violent offences against emergency workers in England and Wales.

The maximum penalty is currently 12 months in prison, but could increase to two years if the Government decides to go ahead with the sentencing change.

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