“Why is the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner interfering in operational policing decisions?”

That’s the question being posed by the Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation after the force committed a dramatic U-turn on issuing spit guards to police officers in the force.

Sarah Johnson (pictured) described herself as beyond angry on behalf of her members as she said police officers being spat at is a “vile act”.

Sarah said:

“Protecting police officers from being spat at is paramount. We had an agreement in place in force to begin a trial of spit guards in custody suites. And now this had been put on hold following an intervention by PCC Martin Surl.

“Our members will rightly be asking why he is getting involved in operational policing decisions, which are a matter for the Chief Constable.

“Police officers will also be left feeling that the Police and Crime Commissioner and the force are basically saying it is ok for people to spit at them.”

Sarah said she would be taking the U-turn up as a matter of urgency with both the PCC’s office and the force management team on behalf of her members.

At last month’s Police Federation of England and Wales Annual Conference, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told delegates she was in favour of spit guards being introduced to officers.

More than half the forces in England and Wales issue them to their officers.

Sarah said she believed every police officer in Gloucestershire should have a spit guard, and described them as “really important pieces of personal protective equipment”.

She added:

“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.”

See the statement from the PCC’s office on the U-turn here https://www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/latest-news-media-martins-blog/we-wont-rush-spit-guards-trial-pcc-martin-surl/