Officer safety should not be ‘postcode lottery’

23 October 2018

PFEW Chair John Apter

PFEW Chair John Apter

Officer safety should not be dependent on the crest on an officers uniform argues PFEW Chair following findings released today by the Metropolitan Police Federation which show the overwhelming majority of London officers want spit guards.

The controversial but vital protective equipment has been subject to much scrutiny since Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for spit guards to be rolled out across all forces at the PFEW conference earlier this year.

PFEW Chair John Apter, said: “Being spat is disgusting and abhorrent assault - and can lead to months of treatment and worry for the victims.

“It is clear that spit guards can help to prevent this and they should be available to all my members regardless of where they work.

"No police officer should have to suffer this - or any type of assault - just because of the job they do."

The poll, by the Metropolitan Police Federation, reveals that almost 95% of officers surveyed feel all Metropolitan police officers should be issued with a spit guard whilst on duty – after they have undergone appropriate training.

More than 5,500 Met police officers responded to the survey on spitting and biting in the capital, which ran for more than two weeks in September.

As well as indicating that more officers should carry a spit guard, the results showed that
2,331 Metropolitan police officers had been spat at on duty in the past two years.

42.25% of Met police officers responding to the survey said they had been spat at or bitten on duty - and that they had not reported the incident to the force (1,330 incidents).

John continued: “The Federation has already made good progress in highlighting the issue of assaults on officers through our Protect the Protectors campaign but there is still work to be done.

“We must ensure all acts of violence, whether physical or verbal are accurately recorded. It must be a priority so the true scale of the problem can be established and appropriate action taken to address it.

“The results of this survey – commissioned by the Metropolitan Police Federation - show clearly what my colleagues in London want.

“Those surveyed have overwhelmingly spoken in favour of being issued with the guards and I would urge Commissioner Dick to heed these results and revisit her decision denying her officers access to this vital piece of safety equipment as they police the capital’s streets.

“I find it inherently unjust that officer safety has become postcode lottery or can be dependent on the crest on an officer’s uniform.”

As of April 2018, a total of 31 of the 43 forces we represent as well as British Transport Police and Police Scotland have approved the use of spit and bite guards. A number of forces have made the guards available to frontline officers in the last year, including Thames Valley, Hampshire and Leicestershire.

In addition, we are calling for a wider roll-out of other essential pieces of kit including Taser and body-worn video.