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I welcome this debate and congratulate Holly Lynch on her campaign to protect the protectors.
For the past year I have taken part in the police service parliamentary scheme, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to all Members of Parliament. It has given me a unique window on the world of everyday life in the police force and the tasks that the police have to undertake on our behalf. I have shadowed various departments in Essex police and seen the incredible work that members of our police service do daily, the challenges and dangers they face, and the frankly astonishing levels of commitment to public service they show. I put on the record my thanks to Essex police for helping me take up that opportunity.
Many of the brave men and women in our police recognise that we are in a challenging period for policing. At a time when the Government are asking them to do more for less, they have absolutely risen to the challenge. Front-line officers put their own safety at risk every day in order to keep people like ourselves safe. I have heard first-hand accounts of officers being punched, kicked, spat at and even bitten, not to mention receiving verbal threats.
Spitting has already been discussed. Although it is often not seen as causing physical harm, not only is it truly disgusting but, as has been mentioned, there are real health risks involved. I would like to have a wider debate on spit hoods. If anyone feels squeamish about them I encourage them to put themselves in the position of an officer being spat at.