Green light for spit guards in Essex is ‘another victory for common sense’

07 June 2017

Man wearing spitguard

Essex has become the latest force to approve a roll out of spit guards later this year.

The move has been welcomed by the Police Federation of England and Wales who have been championing the wider use of the protective equipment.  The Essex decision, announced this week, will make it the 25th force to adopt spit guards.

Che Donald, Federation lead for spit guards, said: “This is another victory for common sense.  Spitting is a form of assault which can lead to serious health implications. Officers should be able to go about their roles without being assaulted, and the use of spit guards is one way of ensuring that they stay safe. They are a useful and effective piece of kit and should be available as standard to all forces - failing to provide adequate protection for officers is a failure in the statutory duty of care the force has to protect its officers.”

Mr Donald was speaking days after Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl was accused of doing a ‘u-turn’ over the use of spit guards on his patch. The county was expected to trial the use of the guards in custody suites later this year.

The Federation recently launched its Protect the Protectors campaign against assaults on police officers including calling for a change in legislation, tougher sentences for offenders and a wider roll-out of protection measures such as Taser, body-worn video and spit guards.

Essex Police Federation Chairman Steve Taylor said he was delighted the force had considered and listened to the evidence and agreed to include spit guards in personal protective equipment following appropriate training.  “They will be on the belt of every police officer and this is great news for our colleagues on the frontline,” said Mr Taylor. “Being spat at is a vile crime and it is not part of the job. We must protect the protectors and this a piece of protective equipment will provide a safe system to help to achieve this.

“When anybody is spat at there is a risk to their health. No one – police officer or not – should have to go through the anguish that this can cause, when they may, for instance, be advised that they should not be intimate with their family.

“I am really pleased that police officers in Essex will have this vital piece of equipment and be that little bit safer following this decision. At the end of the day if a person doesn’t want to be placed in a spit guard, they shouldn’t be spitting at a police officer.”

Since 2015 Essex Police has recorded 48 cases of officers being spat at.

More information on spit and bite guards