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Coronavirus: Spit and bite guards now in use by PSNI

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PSNI officer in Belfast city centre yesterday taking coronavirus precautions

PSNI officer in Belfast city centre yesterday taking coronavirus precautions

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

PSNI officer in Belfast city centre yesterday taking coronavirus precautions

Spit and bite guards are now available to PSNI officers after the Chief Constable was given the green light to use the equipment in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), Mark Lindsay, criticised the PSNI for being the last police service in the UK to use the guards.

The guards are made of mesh and plastic and are placed over the head of a person who is threatening to spit at or bite officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said they will be introduced into custody suites over the coming days.

"They will be introduced into that space, the wider introduction of them is a matter between the Chief Constable and Policing Board, I know those conversations are ongoing," he said.

ACC Todd said there has been "several" incidents of officers getting coughed on or spat at.

"Coughing and spitting over people is reprehensible at the best of times, it is completely reprehensible at the current time, and anyone who does it can expect to be arrested and brought before the courts," he said.

Yesterday, Mr Lindsay said the PFNI had made representations to the Policing Board and the PSNI to use the guards.

"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," he said.

"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."

Mr Lindsay added that the guards will protect officers, their colleagues and families, and that if an officer was forced to self-isolate after contracting the virus it would add even more pressure to the PSNI.

"My message for the 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," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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