Every police officer in Gloucestershire should have a spit guard, the Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.
Describing them as “really important pieces of personal protective equipment”, Sarah Johnson said they should be issued to all officers – to help eliminate the stress and worry that comes when Bobbies are spat at on the job.
And to help Protect The Protectors.
Sarah said that Spit Guards are going to be rolled out in Gloucestershire custody suites “and hopefully will be rolled out further and we’ll follow many other forces that already issue them as personal protective equipment to each and every frontline officer.”
She said: “Police officers are representing the community, keeping the community safe and they are putting themselves in harm’s way, and the least that we should be doing for them is providing, not only the legislation, but the equipment so that they can look after themselves in order to look after the public at large.
“Spitting at a police officer is horrible but then there is also the potential that – should the spit go in their mouths – there will be sometimes up to a six month programme whereby officers have to be tested and maybe take drugs to make sure that they haven’t contracted a contagious disease.
“This means that the officers may not be able to be intimate with their family, might not be able to cuddle their children or might not be able to visit ill relatives, so it’s not only the impact on that day, it’s for a long time thereafter.
“A lot of stress and worry comes with that.”
Latest Government figures show 194 Gloucestershire Police officers were assaulted on duty in the past year – although it is believed the true figure could be considerably higher.
Sarah added: “Locally, like many other forces, the force has signed up to a plan whereby if a police officer or member of staff has been assaulted then they are treated as any other member of the community or victim of crime.
“Somebody should take their statement, there should be follow-up and there should be concern over their welfare. I am also personally contacting our police officers who are assaulted and seeing whether those things are happening, whether the support’s there for them or whether or not they need anything else.”
Sarah also emphasised the importance of MPs understanding the danger police officers face.
She concluded: “I’ve made contact with all local MPs. One, Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, has already been out on patrol with our officers. There are others that are interested and haven’t been able to at this time. Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, does so on an annual basis, and I know that that’s in the pipeline for this year.”