Spit guards to be introduced by South Yorkshire Police

Spits hoods are to be introduced by South Yorkshire Police
Spits hoods are to be introduced by South Yorkshire Police

Controversial spit guards are to be used by South Yorkshire Police next year to reduce the number of attacks on officers.

The force said officers and staff were spat at around nine times every week.

Officers will be trained to use the guards in custody suites and police transit vehicles if a suspect is trying to spit or bite.

The transparent mesh fabric hoods are used to prevent those arrested from spitting or biting officers and have been introduced in other police forces across the country.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “South Yorkshire Police are planning to introduce spit guards in early 2018, once our staff have received the appropriate training.

“We currently have around nine incidents a week of our officers and staff being spat at, which is simply unacceptable.

“The safety of our officers and staff is important and use of spit guards is one way we can offer additional protection.

“That said, the safety of any individual brought into police custody is also an important consideration.

"The spit guards we will be using are see-through, so people aren’t disorientated when they have them on, as well as enabling our officers to monitor for any health issues or changes in behaviour.”

Last month the Police Federation of England and Wales said 25 of the 43 forces it represents had approved the use of spit and bite guards.

It said the long-term effects for an officer being spat at can be long-term and include needing to undergo anti-viral treatment and have the uncertainty of infection, as people are not required by law to give blood samples which would let officers know if they are at risk of contracting life-threatening diseases.

The federation said officers should have the 'necessary and appropriate' kit and equipment to do their jobs, including spit guards.

Campaign group Liberty have called the guards 'primitive, cruel and degrading.'