People in Torbay are being asked to be respectful to keyworkers as they strive to keep the country running during the coronavirus outbreak in a new campaign - #Unacceptable.

Abuse of keyworkers is #UnacceptableAbuse of keyworkers is #Unacceptable

Across Devon and Cornwall in the weeks since the coronavirus lockdown began there have been 87 assaults on police officers and a further 12 on other emergency workers.

These have included verbal abuse, being coughed and sneezed at and physical attacks.

Cllr Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council, said: “This campaign is being launched by the Local Resilience Forum, which is made up of those agencies that represent all keyworkers in Devon and Cornwall, to highlight this #unacceptable trend in assaults their staff are facing every day during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Torbay Council is completely behind this campaign. It is so important that we are respectful to our keyworkers who are making a tremendous effort during these challenging times. Sadly, in Torbay, care staff supporting vulnerable people in their homes have been verbally abused for spreading the virus.

“Over the last month, we have shown great community spirit in the Bay and it is extremely sad that a few people have spoilt this.”

A woman has also recently been jailed for six months for spitting blood into the face of a police officer in Exeter and a burglar spat on a police officer after being arrested and then said he had coronavirus. In Devon, highways staff have been abused while carrying out vital repairs to our roads to ensure NHS staff can get to work safely. And in Cornwall, two women were arrested for assaulting emergency services workers.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “The public of Devon and Cornwall are so supportive of frontline workers across the health, blue light and social support public sector family. In the fight against Covid-19, their work is augmented by workers and volunteers across many different organisations.

“Assaults on any of these vital, keyworkers are unacceptable. Spitting, coughing or in any way spreading or threatening to spread Covid-19 to anyone is intolerable. Assault of this kind on any member of the public may lead to arrest and we will seek to bring criminal proceedings against suspected offenders in discussion with the Crown Prosecution Service.”