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6,500 coronavirus-related prosecutions in first six months of pandemic

|News

Almost 6,500 offences related to coronavirus were prosecuted in the six months following last spring’s lockdown, CPS statistics published today show.

As well as prosecuting offences under Covid-19 legislation, the CPS has introduced a ‘coronavirus flag’ on its case management system 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 the virus, thefts of essential items or fraudsters taking advantage of the crisis.

Offence typeNo. of offences charged
Coronavirus offence1137
Assault on Emergency Workers1688
Public Order Offence480
Criminal Damage466
Common Assault464
Other Offence2234
Total:6469

Assaults on emergency workers were 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.

There were also almost 1,200 offences prosecuted under the coronavirus legislation in the same period, which forbids unnecessary travel and unlawful gatherings.

Cases included a man 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 tried to claim were part of his support bubble.

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Like many organisations across the country, the CPS has had to adapt to a raft of new laws and regulations intended to keep the public safe during the pandemic.

“Our guiding principle throughout has always been to support the police in ensuring the right person in charged with the right offence.

“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.”

Offences with high numbers of charges such as criminal damage and public order are also likely to indicate crimes being committed by those stopped for being outside their homes without reasonable excuse by police.

In total, 2,106 defendants were prosecuted for 6,469 coronavirus-flagged offences, with a conviction rate of 90 per cent.

This update is published alongside the latest CPS quarterly performance data, which includes information on charging rates, caseload and prosecution outcomes.

Notes to editors

The coronavirus-flagged data covers completed prosecutions - ie, where a case has ended in a conviction or been withdrawn - for the first two quarters of 2020/21. It does not include cases with a trial or sentencing outstanding.

This data includes cases where prosecutions were withdrawn as part of our monthly review process. As of October 2020, 286 coronavirus offence prosecutions had been withdrawn or set aside

December’s data for our monthly coronavirus review is available on our website

Our standard quarterly data set is available on our website

Official criminal justice outcome statistics are kept by the Ministry of Justice

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