Cumbria Police officers to be issued with spit hoods

A man wearing a spit guard Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption The spit guards will be similar to ones used by other forces across the country

Police in Cumbria dealing with suspects causing trouble after being arrested are to be issued with spit guards.

The force said its officers were spat at 120 times in 2018 and the hoods will be rolled out in "the coming months".

The mesh fabric hoods are placed over a person's head to prevent them from spitting or biting officers.

Civil liberties groups have previously called them "dangerous and degrading" and warn they can cause panic in the detained person.

The loose-fitting guards do not restrict breathing or impact the wearer's visibility, the force said.

'Horrible assault'

Ch Insp Andy Wilkinson said: "Spitting is a horrible type of assault.

"I'm aware of officers who have also had blood spat at them.

"Sometimes we have cases where officers have had fluids spat at them and the person has known they have infectious diseases and viruses."

The hoods are approved by the National Police Chiefs' Council, and 37 of 43 police forces in England and Wales have already adopted the use of a type of spit protection device.

Officers will be given training before they are issued with the guards.

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said the decision had his "absolute support".

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