Almost 6,500 offences related to Covid were prosecuted in England and Wales in the first six months of the pandemic, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said.
Overall, 2,106 defendants were prosecuted for 6,469 crimes, with a conviction rate of 90 per cent.
Assaults on emergency workers, unnecessary travel and unlawful gatherings
Out of the 6,459 offences, assaults on emergency workers were found to be the most common coronavirus-related crime, with 1,688 offences charged between 1 April and 30 September last year.
“Many of these involved police officers being coughed and spat on - with others kicked, bitten and hit with heavy objects - after stopping suspected rule-breakers,” the CPS said.
In the same period of time, there were 1,137 offences under the coronavirus legislation which forbids unnecessary travel and unlawful gatherings.
Cases included a man who was caught travelling between counties in Wales to solicit the services of a sex worker, and a householder in Manchester found having a party with 15 people whom he then tried to claim were part of his support bubble.
Here’s a breakdown of the charged offences:
- Coronavirus-related offences: 1,137
- Assaults on emergency workers: 1,688
- Public order offences: 480
- Criminal damage: 466
- Common assaults: 464
- Other offences: 2,234
Alongside prosecuting offences under Covid-19 legislation, the CPS has introduced a ‘coronavirus flag’ on its case management system in order to highlight criminality related to the pandemic as an aggravating feature at sentencing.
This can include coughing and spitting while threatening to ‘infect’ another person with coronavirus, thefts of essential items or fraudsters taking advantage of the crisis.
‘Particularly appalling is the high number of assaults on emergency workers still taking place’
Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the CPS has had to “adapt to a raft of new laws and regulations” which have been put in place with the intention of keeping the public safe during the pandemic.
“Our guiding principle throughout has always been to support the police in ensuring the right person is charged with the right offence,” Mr Hill added.
“We are also determined to see wider criminality during lockdown periods reflected in court, which is evident in the charges seen in this data.
“Particularly appalling is the high number of assaults on emergency workers still taking place and I will continue to do everything in my power to protect those who so selflessly keep us safe during this crisis.”