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14 January 2019, 14:37 | Updated: 14 January 2019, 14:53
Devon and Cornwall Police are introducing spit and bite guards to try and stop assaults on officers, staff and other emergency service workers.
Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, said: “The SBG is being introduced for the safety and support of our officers, staff and those we work alongside. Biting and spitting is an atrocious act and the new SBGs will provide additional protection to help keep everyone safe. Too often, officers, security guards or NHS staff are spat upon, not just with saliva but also with blood and other body fluids.”
Figures show between 2016 & 2017, 216 officers and staff were spat on in Devon & Cornwall alone, accounting for 18% of all assaults against staff. It is not just saliva spat but also blood and other bodily fluids.
Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, continued: “Devon and Cornwall Police needs to ensure the safeguarding of those in our care, with particular consideration given to those who are vulnerable or have mental health needs. The Force has taken time to consider a number of options to protect officers and staff; taking into account relevant research and the suitability of various alternatives. In addition to this, we have also ensured that the preferred option has been robustly medically tested to ensure the safety of those in our care.
Devon and Cornwall Police will join 26 other forces nationally who have deployed SBGs in operational and detention settings to protect officers, staff and detainees. This includes Dorset Police who adopted SBGs in December 2018. The Police Federation has been fully engaged in this work and supports the options that have been chosen.
South Western Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, said: “Any assault on staff across the emergency services is unacceptable. We therefore support our police colleagues in the safe and appropriate use of these spit and bite guards.”