Metropolitan Police Officers asked whether they want to carry a spit guard
The Metropolitan Police Federation is launching a survey to find out whether or not more than 29,000 police officers in London want to carry a spit guard.
Members are being asked from today (Thursday 13 September) whether they have been spat at or bitten on duty in the last two years.
And they are also being quizzed on whether they would want to be protected by having a spit guard at their disposal.
Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the move is part of the Metropolitan Police Federation’s ongoing work to evidence to the Met why a wider roll out of spit guards is required.
The Federation said details of the dangers officers face from spitting – and the frequency of such attacks - are required to help convince the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick to issue them to the utility belts of all police officers in London.
Mr Marsh, said: “It’s absolutely horrific to be spat at. My colleagues deserve as much protection as we can give them. They don’t in any way deserve to go to work and be assaulted in this manner.
“Anecdotally we know officers are being spat at far too often - but we need to be able to take the evidence to the Commissioner’s office.
“We have already publicly asked our colleagues to report each and every time they are spat at and this survey is the next step.”
The Met has been trialling the use of spit guards across the capital - but their use has been limited to custody suites and they are not supplied to all frontline officers.
Ken added: “Recently the Commissioner has stated publicly that in the last 18 months, neither her or her senior officers have been asked by an operational officer for spit guards.
“Well, that’s not what they have been telling us.
“So let’s ask our colleagues - those out there putting themselves in danger each and every day to keep Londoners safe – what their view is.
“We would encourage all operational officers to take part in the short survey as open and honestly as possible.”
At the Police Federation of England and Wales Conference in May, Home Secretary Sajid Javid backed the roll out of spit guards to frontline officers on the streets of London.
Mr Javid said he would raise the issue with the Commissioner saying officers need the equipment for their protection.
When asked about spit guards at this week’s Police Superintendents’ Association Annual Conference, the Commissioner said that since the guards had been used in Met custody suites there had not been a single complaint about them.
She also said that she wanted to understand the prevalence of Metropolitan Police officers being spat at as an officer safety issue.
Across England and Wales, more than 30 of 43 forces utilise spit guards with many, including the British Transport Police which operates in London, issuing the kit to front line officers.
Ken added: “So many officers across the country now have spit guards at their disposal and there is no reason why officers in London should not.”