London

Front-line Met Police officers to get spit hoods in U-turn decision

Spit hood Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption The force said it was developing detailed guidelines for their use beyond their current use in custody in the coming months

Front-line Met Police officers will be given spit guards as part of their equipment, it has been announced.

Commissioner Cressida Dick previously resisted the move, saying the guards should only be used in custody suites, where they are currently deployed.

The decision comes after a Met Police Federation survey showed 92% of officers were in favour of carrying spit guards while on duty.

Ms Dick said she would ensure officers can do their jobs "safely".

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has backed calls for spit and bite guards across all forces in England and Wales.

Civil liberties groups said the hoods that are placed over suspects' heads were "dangerous and degrading".

Image caption Being spat at is "abhorrent", the Met Police Federation says

Ms Dick said her job was to "ensure officers have what they need to do their jobs effectively and safely".

"Officers, in particular, are tasked with responding to often dangerous situations and they need the protection to be able to do so safely, in order to protect the public, victims and suspects", she said.

The change comes after a poll found 2,331 officers had been spat at while working in the city in the past two years, while 562 had been bitten.

Ken Marsh, Met Police Federation chairman, said the rolling out of spit guards on the streets was "great news for colleagues in London".

"Being spat at is abhorrent and we know it's sadly happening too often to our colleagues in London", he said.

"Officers protecting the people of London should not be subject to this sort of disgusting assault when they are carrying out their duty."

The number of Taser-trained officers will also be increased to 6,497 by March 2020, Scotland Yard said.

About 4,000 out of 31,000 Met officers are currently trained and authorised to carry the devices.

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