National Chair welcomes Commissioner’s spit guard decision

07 February 2019

Spit Guard

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter has welcomed the decision by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to allow frontline Met officers access to spit and bite guards while policing the capital’s streets. 

Commissioner Dick announced the change in policy at a staff briefing today (7 February). It comes after a campaign led by the Metropolitan Police Federation fought hard for access to the guards which are used to protect officers from being bitten or spat at. 

Prior to the announcement today officers in the Met only had access to spit and bite guards whilst inside custody suites.

Mr Apter said: “I welcome the Commissioner’s decision today. It is only right that officers have access to this vital piece of protective equipment and I must praise Metropolitan Police Federation Chair Ken Marsh and his team for the tireless work they have done to help bring about this change for the benefit of their members.

“However, as much as this is a win for officers in London it further reinforces clear disparity around the country - some forces still have not introduced spit and bite guards. 

“Officer safety should never be dependent on where an officer works. What we want is for all our members – throughout England and Wales – to have access to the same protective equipment. 

“I would urge those chief constables who have not yet issued spit and bite guards to all officers to do the right thing. There is no excuse for not providing officers with this essential equipment which has been described by some officers as a life saver.” 

The Metropolitan Police Federation canvassed the views and experiences of their officers via a survey - the results of which showed 2,331 police officers had been spat at in London while on duty in the past two years, and 562 were bitten. Of those who responded, 95 percent said they wanted to carry a spit guard on duty. 

Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “The rolling out of spit guards to all officers in the MPS is great news for colleagues in London – and Metropolitan Police Officers will appreciate having access to this vital piece of kit when they carry out their difficult role.

“Being spat at is abhorrent and we know it’s sadly happening too often to our colleagues in London, so the force’s decision over this piece of Personal Protective Equipment is a real positive and we appreciate that they have listened to our compelling argument.” 

During the same briefing Commissioner Dick said that an extra 330 officers would be trained to use Taser by March next year, bringing the total number in the Met to nearly 6,800.

She also announced that all Met officers with more than one year’s service up to the rank of Chief Superintendent will receive a £350 bonus in recognition of the ‘extra ordinary pressures’ they have faced in London over the past two years.