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Man in court accused of coughing at PCSO

A man's been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency service worker in Shaftesbury.

A female police community support officer asked a man why he was outside on Monday, before he ran off towards Bell Street.

The person was detained, with help from a member of the public - after coughing at the officer and pretending to have coronavirus symptoms.

An 18 year old from Portland is due in court later this month.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: "At around 2.15pm on Monday 30 March the victim – a female PCSO who was on duty - reportedly approached a man in the town as part of public checks under the new COVID-19 (coronavirus) legislation. 

"She asked him to confirm the purpose of his being outside, following the restrictions on movement imposed by the Government in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. 

"It is reported that the man became verbally abusive and refused to give his details, before running off down Bell Street.

"The officer pursued the man and he was detained after a member of public intervened. The man then allegedly coughed toward the victim and said: “I’ve got coronavirus.”

"The alleged offender is not a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and was not displaying symptoms.

"An 18-year-old man from Portland was arrested and has been charged with assaulting an emergency worker, a breach of COVID-19 guidelines by being in a group of three or more, and a public order offence. He is due to appear at Poole Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 14 April 2020."

Inspector Simon Perry, from North Dorset police, added: “We are continuing to carry out a full investigation into this incident and I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed it to please contact police. 

"I am particularly keen to speak to the member of public who came to the victim’s assistance.

"I would like to remind members of the public that this matter is now the subject of active court proceedings and the individual charged in connection with this investigation has a right to a fair trial. 

"It is important that there should be no commentary or sharing of information online or on social media that could potentially prejudice these proceedings."

"Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200046500. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

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