Spit Guards in very high demand survey finds 

The vast majority of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers have said all officers should carry a Spit Guard. 

Oct 23, 2018
By Neil Root
Metropolitan Police Federation chair Ken Marsh: 'It’s absolutely horrific to be spat at'

Almost 95 per cent of respondents to the Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) survey (5,500 officers) said that all MPS officers should be issued with a Spit Guard when on duty, once they have completed the appropriate training. 

And 92.32 per cent (5,133) would be prepared to carry a Spit Guard after receiving that appropriate training. 

The survey, which took place for over two weeks in September, also revealed that 2,331 MPS officers had been spat at in the last two years, and 562 officers had been bitten in the same period. 

These incidents were found to be massively under-reported: just 57.75 per cent of those officers spat at or bitten over the last two years had reported it to the force. 

Ken Marsh, MPF Chairman, said: “Being spat at is abhorrent. My colleagues do not in any way deserve to go to work and be assaulted in this manner. 

“Colleagues have told us they have been spat at in the face far too often. That’s horrific. It can go into your eyes, into your mouth, you could get infections and have to undergo a course of medical treatment.” 

Mr. Marsh added that officers protecting the London public should not have to deal with “this sort of disgusting assault” when on duty. He said the low level of internal reporting of both the spitting and biting assaults was worse than previously thought. 

Commissioner Cressida Dick asked for the evidence to back up the stories of the spitting at and biting of officers in her force, and Mr. Marsh said that there had been a “progressive” conversation with the commissioner about the survey results, adding that there would be “more news on this soon”. 

Mr. Marsh added: “Our message is simple. If you don’t want to be placed in a Spit Guard, don’t spit at a police officer.” 

One officer who had been the victim of spitting in a custody suite had to undertake a two-week course of drugs with attendant side effects and was unable to hold his newly born daughter. 

Another officer had to undergo six months of HIV prevention treatment after he was spat at in the face as the saliva contained blood. 

One MPS officer explained why carrying a Spit Guard was so important: “We have a baton, CS spray and Taser to protect us from knives and fists. It is only right that officers can protect themselves from saliva and blood.” 

Spit Guards were introduced into the MPS by Commissioner Cressida Dick with a successful pilot in December 2016 and they were rolled out across London custody suites in July 2017. Since that time, they have been used effectively and safely in supervised custody situations. 

Almost 95 per cent of respondents to the Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) survey (5,500 officers) said that all MPS officers should be issued with a Spit Guard when on duty, once they have completed the appropriate training. 

And 92.32 per cent (5,133) would be prepared to carry a Spit Guard after receiving that appropriate training. 

The survey, which took place for over two weeks in September, also revealed that 2,331 MPS officers had been spat at in the last two years, and 562 officers had been bitten in the same period. 

These incidents were found to be massively under-reported: just 57.75 per cent of those officers spat at or bitten over the last two years had reported it to the force. 

Ken Marsh, MPF Chairman, said: “Being spat at is abhorrent. My colleagues do not in any way deserve to go to work and be assaulted in this manner. 

“Colleagues have told us they have been spat at in the face far too often. That’s horrific. It can go into your eyes, into your mouth, you could get infections and have to undergo a course of medical treatment.” 

Mr. Marsh added that officers protecting the London public should not have to deal with “this sort of disgusting assault” when on duty. He said the low level of internal reporting of both the spitting and biting assaults was worse than previously thought. 

Commissioner Cressida Dick asked for the evidence to back up the stories of the spitting at and biting of officers in her force, and Mr. Marsh said that there had been a “progressive” conversation with the commissioner about the survey results, adding that there would be “more news on this soon”. 

Mr. Marsh added: “Our message is simple. If you don’t want to be placed in a Spit Guard, don’t spit at a police officer.” 

One officer who had been the victim of spitting in a custody suite had to undertake a two-week course of drugs with attendant side effects, and was unable to hold his newly born daughter. 

Another officer had to undergo six months of HIV prevention treatment after he was spat at in the face as the saliva contained blood. 

One MPS officer explained why carrying a Spit Guard was so important: “We have a baton, CS spray and Taser to protect us from knives and fists. It is only right that officers can protect themselves from saliva and blood.” 

A MPS spokesman said: “The Met welcomes the survey by the Federation into officers’ experiences of spitting and biting, and members’ views on spit-guards. The survey shows that far too many officers are being spat at and bitten, and too often they are not recording this. The Met and Federation both share the view that this is completely unacceptable.
“The survey doesn’t ask details about the circumstances of the spitting incidents. We want and need to understand more about how many of these instances could be prevented, as spit-guards should only be used once an officer or member of staff has already been spat at and therefore do not stop officers being spat at on the first occasion.
“We will now be working with the Federation, experts, other forces and communities to establish more information about how we could further prevent officers and staff from being spat at outside of custody. We will be reviewing what the best methods and equipment to protect officers from being spat at are.”

Related News

Select Vacancies

Head of Essex Centre for Data Analytics

Essex Centre for Data Analytics

Deputy Chief Constable

Sovereign Base Areas - Cyprus

Superintendents

Warwickshire Police

Constables

Hertfordshire Constabulary

Chief Inspector

Greater Manchester Police

Police Staff Investigator (Designated Powers)

Metropolitan Police Service

Copyright © 2019 Police Professional