Assaults on emergency service workers who are responding to the coronavirus pandemic appear to be on the rise, according to figures from Dorset Police.

The force said that, between 23 March and 17 May, a total of 89 police and emergency workers were assaulted in Dorset while responding to the coronavirus pandemic. More than one assault per day.

As previously reported, between March 16 and April 14 there were 40 occurrences of assault on police officers and emergency workers in Dorset. These included being coughed and sneezed at with the threat of infection and physical attacks.

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Our police officers, paramedics and other key workers are heroes who are enabling our county to keep going throughout this unprecedented situation. I’m sure the vast majority of the Dorset public would agree that assaulting these brave men and women, or deliberately coughing and sneezing over them, is a despicable and cowardly act."

Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “We will not tolerate assaults on our officers, our emergency services colleagues or key workers. Offenders will be dealt with robustly and we will bring criminal proceedings against those responsible.

“Working with partners, Dorset Police is raising awareness of the risks officers, emergency services colleagues and essential key workers are taking to keep communities running. Any form of assault against emergency service staff or key workers will be dealt with swiftly.”