Controversial ‘spit hoods’ could be used by police across West Yorkshire as part of plans to reduce the number of ‘disgusting’ attacks on officers.
West Yorkshire Police is consulting on plans to allow its frontline officers to use the mesh fabric hoods, which are already being deployed in custody suites and are put over the head of the arrested person to stop them spitting or biting.
The body representing rank and file officers in the county says the wider use of the hoods “cannot come soon enough” though critics, including campaign group Liberty says they are cruel and degrading.
It comes after Humberside Police announced in April that officers at its Clough Road police station and custody suite in Hull would be able to use the hoods as a three-month pilot.
In a statement, West Yorkshire Police said the force is “committed to trying to protect its officers from harm and assault while carrying out their duties and this includes providing them with available equipment for their protection”.
A spokesman said spit and bite guards are one such piece of equipment and were introduced in custody areas in West Yorkshire in 2013. The force is now consulting on the potential wider roll-out and use of these devices by frontline officers.
Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said: “No police officer should be spat at and we are determined to do all we can to protect our staff from such a disgusting form of assault. The use of a Spit and Bite Guard on someone under arrest is not something which is done lightly and must always be a proportionate, appropriate and justifiable in response to their behaviour and actions.”