Woman charged over attack on police officer dealing with coronavirus lockdown breach

PUBLISHED: 12:06 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 06 May 2020

Police made an arrest after an officer was punched. Picture: Matthew Usher

Police made an arrest after an officer was punched. Picture: Matthew Usher

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A woman has been charged with assaulting a police officer, who was trying to deal with a group which were breaching the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Norfolk police attended an incident in the King’s Lynn on Tuesday night after a report that the COVID-19 regulations had been breached.

Police said they had been called at 7pm to reports of a gathering of people in Kettlewell Lane.

They said that, on arrival at the scene, police extinguished a small fire which had been lit and ordered a dispersal of the individuals, in line with COVID-19 restrictions around gatherings of people.

But they tweeted: “During the incident, one of the group decided to assault an officer by punching them in the face.”

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds.Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds.

Police said Jurgita Cepaite, 41, of Richmond Place, Columbia Way in King’s Lynn was arrested at the scene.

She was taken to King’s Lynn Police Investigation Centre and charged with assault on an emergency worker, and contravening requirements to not participate in gathering in public of more than two people.

She was released on bail, and is due to attend King’s Lynn Magistrates Court on June 11.

Norfolk Police Federation recently criticised the “awful and abhorrent” practice of offenders coughing and spitting at police officers during the coronavirus pandemic.

An estimated 10 Norfolk officers have been spat at or coughed at by people claiming to be carrying COVID-19 since the outbreak began, according to Andy Symonds, Norfolk’s Police Federation chairman.

He said: “Since late February we have had around 10 of these, on top of other assaults. Threats or actual coughing at officers or officers being spat at.

“It is awful, abhorrent and another stressor on police officers’ work. They are sadly working in an era where they know it’s not if, it’s when they are assaulted. And now they face this extra pressure and strain.

“Their other halves are seeing them off to their shifts and worrying that they could bring coronavirus back into their homes.

“It is important to understand that not only are they worrying about being attacked as they go about their daily duty, protecting the public, there is now the added fear that they could bring a life-threatening disease back to their family.”

In March, Norwich woman Joanne Turner, 35, was jailed for 12 weeks after claiming she had coronavirus before coughing in an officer’s face.

Mr Symonds said the federation has fought hard for adequate PPE, and representatives have been lobbying MPs under the #ProtectTheProtectors banner.

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