Spit Guards: The case for protecting police officers against infectious diseases

Read the Spit Guard Briefing


Our Recommendations

The Met Police and Mayor for London should communicate with the public and roll-out the tactic to protect officers and the public.

  • The Mayor of London, the Mayor’s Office of Police and Crime and the Metropolitan Police leadership should recognise the level of threat posed by spitting and the existence of a Home Office permitted method (the spit guard) being successfully used by other forces to help improve the safety of officers.
  • As a priority they should commit to introduce the use of a spit guard tactic in the next available round of Officer Safety Training with the kit constituting personal issue protective equipment (PPE).
  • The Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Media and Communications should be directed to produce a range of professional multimedia content to explain the tactic for use across social media and for dissemination to communities and the media.
  • The Metropolitan Police should engage with local communities through Safer Neighbourhood Boards and Ward Panels to explain what a spit guard is and why it is considered necessary. Demonstrations of it being used, along with the opportunity to try it on, can and should be provided to help allay any remaining community concerns.

Other forces not currently permitting use of the tactic should re-appraise their provision and ensure officers are provided with the tools to minimise risks related to spitting.

  • Other police forces should reappraise their provision for protecting officers from the very real threat posed by offenders violently spitting – and those forces who are already using spit guards should be commended for their determination to provide their professionals with the tools necessary to minimise the risks from offenders spitting.

Offenders who spit should be subject to mandatory blood testing to assist with diagnosis and treatment of any affected person.

  • Legislation should be put forward to enforce mandatory testing for offenders who bite or spit at public safety professionals (including police officers and prison officers), with such legislation allowing – on the authority of a senior officer – for the taking of blood samples from the offender to help in diagnosis, clinical management and treatment of anyone exposed to infection.

Other law enforcement and public safety professionals – such as prison officers and ambulance staff – should also be afforded the same or similar protections.

  • Finally, other public safety bodies – including the Ministry of Justice and NHS ambulance trusts should review their arrangements for ensuring that their frontline staff are also provided with protective equipment against spitting.

Media Coverage and Impact

    Debate and Discussion