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Positive Spit Guards Talks

Police Federation representatives have met the human rights organisation Liberty to discuss the issue of spit guards.

PFEW Chairman John Apter and Operational Policing Lead Simon Kempton spoke to the organisation about the importance of spit guards to police officers. They described the meeting as “very positive”.

Simon said: “We both listened. [It was] very constructive and very useful to have the first of several future meetings on spit guards and other issues.

“On the issue of spit guards we listened to the concerns of Liberty and were able to offer context and explanation around their use and the testing that’s gone into them.

“We ressured them about the levels of aftercare included in training.
“Both John and I gave examples of when we’ve been subjected to spitting and biting assaults to give context to why they’re necessary. Liberty raised concerns about their use with people who are suffering from mental health issues.

“Both John and I acknowledged that even more care is needed when a person is suffering from mental health issues, but that this is acknowledged in the training and must be balanced with the need to protect officers and the public.”

He added that the current alternatives, such as prone restraint, give rise to a heightened risk of positional asphyxia, and such a tactic is not allowed to be used as a substitute for spit guards. This in turn narrows officers’ options.

Simon concluded: “[It was] all in all, very worthwhile… Liberty acknowledged the difficulties that police work under and their support for police and policing generally.”

Date posted: May 5, 2019

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