West Midlands Police confirms plan to arm officers with spit and bite guards

Police officers in Birmingham are to be armed with spit and bite guards.

A police spit guard

A police spit guard

The masks are used in more than 22 other forces across the country and now West Midlands Police is introducing them for 4,500 officers.

The move comes after 231 police in the region were spat on last year alone.

The force says such behaviour leaves its officers at risk of being infected with different diseases.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “The decision to introduce spit and bite guards into West Midlands Police is not one I’ve taken lightly.

“Some considerable work has gone into this and on the basis of everything I have seen, I believe this is absolutely the right decision.

“I acknowledge that some people will feel worried about their introduction. I want to reassure them that safeguards are in place and if they are used, this will be recorded. That data will be made available and will be scrutinised by local people. The Police and Crime Commissioner will also hold me to account for the actions of my officers. This is right and proper.”

Ch Cons Thompson also believes the guards will reduce the level of force his officers need to use on someone who is trying to spit.

They are made of a net like material with a reinforced section around the jawline to prevent biting.

“We recognise that the new guards will never stop the first spit,” he added. “But they will prevent other officers from being assaulted in this way and offer innocent bystanders protection.”

The spit guards are costing £11,000 and will be introduced in the coming months.

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