PFNI tells Policing Board to end dithering on spit and bite guards
The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, is asking why the PSNI is the last police service in the United Kingdom to be able to use spit and bite guards.
The guards are made of mesh and plastic and are placed over the head of a person who is threatening to spit or bite officers.
Mr Lindsay says the failure to immediately introduce the guards in Northern Ireland is inexcusable and places officers at increased risk during this worsening Covid-19 crisis. We have already seen one incident where our officers were exposed to someone coughing and spitting on officers and claiming to be infected with this virus. In these cases the issue is clearly life or death.
Mr Lindsay said: “Every other Police Service in the United Kingdom has these spit and bite guards on issue to protect their officers from this disgusting and dangerous practice. However, despite representations to both PSNI and the Policing Board, we are still unable to have this equipment issued.
“These mesh guards are a requirement under Health and Safety legislation, so there is no basis for stalling. The Federation and the PSNI have made the case for their introduction to the Northern Ireland Policing Board and it is quite remarkable that it still hasn’t given approval.
“This inaction is playing with the health of police officers. For those on the frontline and sound health reasons, we must have every protection available to deploy. As Covid-19 worsens, and enforcement is stepped up, our officers will find themselves in difficult and potentially dangerous situations.
“They must have these spit and bite guards to protect themselves and, by extension, their work colleagues and families. We don’t want officers being forced into self-isolation because they have been spat at. Self-isolation means they are unavailable for duty, which places added strain on a service that has considerably fewer officers than the required peacetime minimum of 7,500.
“My message for the Northern Ireland Policing Board and PSNI is simple: give us the tools to do our job safely and professionally and end this ridiculous indecision on these essential guards.