In addition to our officers potentially exposing themselves to the risks of COVID by protecting the public, they are also facing increasing levels of assaults in the execution of their duties.

Between July to December last year, a total of 143 assaults on officers and staff were recorded in Wiltshire – of which 63 resulted in injury.

Already this year, five assaults have been recorded against our officers and staff.

Nationally, The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that 1,688 offences were charged relating to assaults on emergency service workers in the last six months.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: "Every day our officers and staff are out keeping our communities staff and helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Whilst we continue to be grateful for the ongoing support from the public, it is saddening to see that a minority of the public continue to believe it is acceptable to assault our officers and staff in the course of their duties.

"Our staff are normal members of our communities, who have families and the same concerns that we all have as we look to combat the virus - being assaulted on duty – either physically or verbally – is not just ‘part of the job’ and is completely unacceptable.

"We will not tolerate assaults upon our officers and staff or other emergency services workers and will, with the support of the courts, robustly bring to justice those who assault the protectors of our communities.

"Our officers will continue to put themselves at risk to keep us all safe and we ask the public to work with us to prevent the spread of the virus."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: "It is never acceptable for officers, staff or volunteers to be assaulted as they undertake their duties to protect us all from harm.

"Particularly when they are potentially putting themselves in harm’s way in terms of risk of exposure to COVID, it is even more frustrating to hear the level of violence they face.

"The law changed in 2018 which, quite rightly, means it is an offence to assault any member of the emergency services whilst they try and help those in need.

"I would continue to urge everyone to follow the national restrictions which quite clearly state you might stay at home as much as you can to protect the NHS and save lives."

Last week, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, announced an increase in the fine for anyone attending a house party of 15 or more people to £800. These fines double for each repeat offence up to a maximum fine of £6,400 and will be introduced from this week.

The majority of people in Wiltshire and Swindon continue to do their best in relation to following the COVID regulations. However, we have seen an increase in the number of fines being issued over the past seven days.

The latest figures show that between 18/01 and 24/01 Wiltshire Police:

• Issued 33 fixed penalty notices. This brings the overall total to 372, as there have been a number of retrospective FPNs for previous incidents.
• Issued 68 formal warnings to people for failing to adhere to the Government rules. Four of these were issued to businesses not complying.
• Recorded six interactions/engagement. Two for large groups, four for people not wearing masks and 0 for failing to isolate.
• Recorded 321 reports from members of the public, either via the phone or using our online reporting tool.
• Recorded four Covid-related crimes and 25 Covid-related incidents.