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  1. Head of Met Police claims rank and file is more concerned about other issues. Commissioner Cressida Dick at the London Assembly Date - 5th September 2018 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle The UK’s most senior officer says she fears issuing spit guards could increase the risks to officers rather than reduce them. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had not heard a request from frontline officers to use the devices until Federation branch chairman Ken Marsh raised the issue with the Home Secretary in May this year. Mr Marsh however had raised the issue a year earlier at the previous Police Federation of England and Wales Conference. But Comm Dick told politicians at the London Assembly today: “I’m interested to hear more from the Federation and my officers to see the prevalence of where it would have helped. My only concern is that most of the time when someone is spat at it’s spontaneous and it’s not going to help at all, the vast majority of cases.” She added that trying to get a guard on someone’s head could make them react more violently than they otherwise would be. “It may make things worse not better,” she said. Tory Susan Hall raised the issue of treatment for hepatitis C, which she said is stressful and “absolutely shocking” to go through for personnel and their families. When the commissioner said it is only a small number who have to go through the process the politician replied that the small number should still be spared the ordeal. She said: “I find it so perverse that we will not issue spit guards to our officers on the street. “The public needs to know it’s only if someone spits at them or bites them first that it will be put on. “Given we’ve got 40,000 people in London alone who have hepatitis C alone, very often from the groups of people who will be in trouble with the police, I don’t understand why we don’t have them. “There are 32 forces in the country that do use them including the BTP who are on the streets of London. Even if it saves one officer from getting hepatitis C on the streets of London it would be worth it.” Asked later by Labour’s Andrew Dismore about potential legal action from officers over denial of personal protective equipment by the decision not to issue spit guards to the frontline, the commissioner said she doesn’t think there is a legal duty to issue them. She had earlier raised legal and professional standards investigations over the use of spit guards in other force areas as a possible reason not to rush to introduce the devices. View On Police Oracle
  2. Firm argues that the devices are not necessary or proportionate. Solicitors are seeking a complete ban on spit guard use by police in England and Wales. Police Oracle can reveal lawyers from Irwin Mitchell have launched an application for judicial review against all deployment of the equipment. They argue the National Police Chiefs’ Council should have halted use of the devices following the review of a 2012 case in which a disabled 11-year-old girl was hooded and put in leg restraints by Sussex Police. The IPCC criticised the force in a report about her treatment last year. Yogi Amin, an expert civil liberties solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “A number of police forces in the UK, including large forces such as the Merseyside Police and West Midlands Police, do not allow officers to use spit hoods on adults, let alone children with significant disabilities. “The IPCC’s findings following its investigation into the treatment our young client received at the hands of Sussex Police indicate a clear need for improvements in the way the force responds to disabled children and a full exploration of the policy on spit hood use – including the risks and alternatives – within all forces by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “The police, of course, do a difficult and important job and it is right that they should have the equipment they need, but hooding someone is a serious decision. “Hooding children is a step too far, particularly in the absence of clear evidence that these devices are necessary or a proportionate means of protecting officers bearing in mind the alternative safe strategies available.” The solicitors want alternatives to be introduced which "protect officers rather than restrict detainees" a spokeswoman added. West Midlands Police is currently exploring whether to introduce the equipment, Chief Constable Dave Thomson told the Police Federation Conference in May. Chief constables were informed of the application for judicial review a few weeks ago and a QC from the Met Police’s legal team was assigned to provide an initial response. This website understands that the NPCC intends to fight the case, and expect the Police Federation and College of Policing, as well as spit guard manufacturers to become interested parties in the proceedings. In May, NPCC chairman Chief Constable Sara Thornton told PoliceOracle.com evidence was being gathered to support the guards’ deployment. Che Donald from the Police Federation said: “It is not right that officers get assaulted. Over half of police forces in the UK are now utilising spit guards in one way or another and there isn’t anything else that protects officers in the same way. “If you don’t spit you won’t have to wear one. And if there is not a spit guard and someone is spitting at a police officer, the officer is going to have to use physical force - which is more than likely to be on the head - and causes far more risk." He added nothing else is as effective and practical as using a spit guard. The case has emerged just after the Met, the biggest force in the UK, rolled-out the use of spit guards in all of its custody suites. The force said that an earlier, limited, trial of the equipment had been “successful” although it did not explain how it arrived at this conclusion. In a statement on the extension of its use, a Met Police spokesman said: “The Met has a duty of care to its officers and staff - the issue of spitting and biting is a real problem and a particularly unpleasant form of assault which rightly generates a lot of concern amongst officers. “Aside from the fact that as an employer the Met cannot expect its staff to be spat at, or think this is acceptable, some of the follow-up treatment required after such an assault can be prolonged and unpleasant.” View on Police Oracle

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