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Force gives green light to spit guards

Fed says introduction across forces 'is slow but nevertheless progress'

South Yorkshire Police is introducing spit guards in custody suites.

The force says that after careful consideration and consultation, it is now in a position to begin training staff for the introduction of the equipment.

It estimates a member of its personnel is spat at once a day. However, it is thought incidents of this nature are under-reported.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “Spitting on or at an officer is an assault. Our staff should be able to come to work and do their job, protecting the public of South Yorkshire, without being assaulted.

“The introduction of spit guards will offer a safe and practical barrier to protect our officers.”

A guard will only be used by trained officers on a detainee who has already spat or threatened to do so.

The training includes communicating with the detainee to gain compliance so that the guard can be removed at the earliest opportunity.

From March, SYP will roll-out access to spit guards to personnel outside custody suites for use whilst transporting prisoners.

DCC Roberts continued: “The safety and welfare of our officers is paramount, in order to allow them to continue their role in protecting the public of South Yorkshire.

“Spit guards will ultimately allow us to minimise a certain level of risk to our staff in preventing them from being assaulted, as well as allowing officers to bring a situation under control quickly and safely when someone is spitting or biting.”

The hoods are currently being used or trialled in at least 25 out of 43 forces across England and Wales.

Police Federation vice chairman Che Donald told Police Oracle the progress being made “is slow but nevertheless progress” compared to three years ago where only 12 forces were using them.

“Ultimately we wish for all forces to implement them and are supportive of their appropriate use, we are however reliant upon the chief constables for making the decisions,” he added.

South Yorkshire Fed branch vice chairman Zuleika Payne has been campaigning for their introduction for some time.

“We are happy with the design and we are happy it is fit for purpose. They will protect our officers who are protecting the public and could also protect members of the public themselves," she said.

Police Oracle revealed last year that there is a legal bid to stop forces using the equipment.