A POLICE federation chairman says it is “staggering” that criminals who have coughed and spat at police have not been given tougher sentences in court.

Sussex Police Federation Chairman Matt Webb (pictured below) spoke after the conviction of Trevor Dangerfield in Hastings.

Dangerfield had coughed in the face of an officer then said he “wanted to infect the officer and his family”.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court the 39-year-old, of Singleton Walk, Bexhill, was given a 16-week suspended sentence for assaulting a police officer.

But Inspector Webb said courts are failing to recognise the seriousness of coronavirus threats and assaults against emergency service workers.

The Argus:

He said: “Officers have been placed in an impossible position of trying to uphold hastily drawn-up legislation designed to protect the public and the NHS, in addition to their day-to-day business.

“When they are attacked in this way for simply doing their job, and are not supported by the judicial system, it is a disgrace.

“What sort of message does this send to people like Dangerfield who make police officers fear for the fact that they may be infected with this virus, which has killed thousands of people in this country alone?

“The Police Federation has been fighting for a long time to get assaults of this nature recognised as the serious offences that they are. An attack on a police officer is an attack on society.”

Despite sentencing guidelines and laws to bring in tougher sentences, Insp Webb said “the courts continue to treat these assaults as low level and hand out derisory sentences”.

He added: “Any assault on an Emergency Service worker should attract a custodial sentence and in the current climate especially to not do so is flabbergasting.”

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