Sajid Javid at odds with police chief over spit hoods
The boss of the Metropolitan Police has risked a row with Sajid Javid over the use of spit hoods by front-line cops.
Cressida Dick put herself at odds with the Home Secretary after she confirmed officers would be barred from using spit hoods on suspects outside of custody.
Mr Javid told the Police Federation in May it was “ridiculous” that the Met had not fully adopted the use of spit hoods after 30 of the 43 forces in England and Wales had issued the equipment to front-line officers.
“I cannot understand why any chief constable would put public perception before protecting police officers,” he argued.
But Ms Dick announced that the mesh hoods would only be permitted for use in custody suites, after the force ran a lengthy trial.
Her decision has infuriated the Metropolitan Police Federation, which branded the move “absurd” and insisted the hoods “do not cause any stress whatsoever”.
“No member of the public will ever see a spit guard until they have spat at one of my colleagues,” said the Federation Chairman, Ken Marsh.
He added: “My colleagues deserve as much protection as we can give them. They don’t in any way deserve to go to work and be spat at.
“So many officers across the country now have spit guards at their disposal and there is no reason why officers in London should not.”
Since July 2017, the Met Police have deployed spit guards 151 times.
The decision by Ms Dick was welcomed by an influential civil liberties group, which said it was “a step in the right direction”.
Gracie Bradley, Advocacy Manager for Liberty, said: “No one deserves to be assaulted as part of their job, which is why police officers have already many tools at their disposal to defend and protect themselves.
"But spit hoods are degrading, dangerous and have been linked to deaths in custody, and a robust case of their use has not been made.”
Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “Spitting and biting is a particularly unpleasant form of assault which rightly generates a lot of concern amongst officers.
“Over a number of years the Met has been looking at potential ways of minimising the threat this issue poses to officers and staff. One of the options that has been considered is spit and bite guards.
“We continue to monitor the use of spit and bite guards in the Met and are working with the Met Federation about encouraging police officers to report when they are spat at so we ensure we have accurate records of this.”