People who get caught coughing or spitting on others even if they don’t claim to have the COVID-19 virus will come under proposed sentencing changes.
People who deliberately cough on emergency workers can already be punished with up to two years imprisonment.
A consultation document said, “a number of sentencers [judges and magistrates] thought that ‘spitting’ should be explicitly referenced as a factor increasing the seriousness of an offence”.
It added: “The Council agreed that it should and, taking into account recent offending trends, the Council has included ‘spitting or to cough’ as an aggravating factor.”
“This would include (but is not limited to) situations where common assault offences have been committed by offenders coughing and spitting at victims with a direct or implied threat of COVID-19 or another disease transmission,” the document said.
“Public-facing workers are particularly at risk from this type of offence, and a number of successful prosecutions have recently taken place.
“Where an offender intentionally spits or coughs at a victim, in situations such as the current epidemic, an intention to cause fear of transmission could be inferred even where there is no explicit assertion that an offender has a disease capable of transmission.”
Chris Philp, the justice minister, said: “Never has the debt of gratitude we owe our emergency workers been greater — they are heroes who risk their lives to keep us safe.
“These guidelines send a clear message that those who seek to harm them will feel the full force of the law.”
Article submitted by Chante, Structured, Edited And Corrected By Charles Watson