We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Spit Guards

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 25th September 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Please can you provide an update on the roll out of spit guards by the Metropolitan Police Service?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thank you, Chair. Thank you for your question. Any assault on officers in the line of duty is totally unacceptable. I would like to take this opportunity, as I am sure you and the Assembly would, to pay tribute to MPS Police Constable (PC) Stuart Outten who was injured in the line of duty in London on 8 August [2019]. I hope the Assembly Members will join me in wishing him a full recovery. I also, Chair - through you - want to pay tribute to PC Andrew Harper who was killed in August [2019]. Whilst PC Harper was not a London MPS officer, I know we are all shocked and saddened by his death.

The MPS Commissioner is clear that if somebody attacks a police officer this must not be considered a minor issue and I fully agree with that. I am absolutely committed to keeping officers safe. They must have the right protection as they go about their duties. One of the awful ways they are attacked is by being spat at or bitten. That is why I supported the Commissioner’s operational decision for a staged rollout of spit and bite guards beyond their previous use just in custody, which began during my time as Mayor. While supporting this measure, obviously they must always be in a proportionate and transparent way. That is why spit and bite guards can only be issued to officers trained in their use. As of July 2019 all officers attending their individual safety training have received training in the use of spit and bite guards, which is 6,037 police officers and 208 Dedicated Detention Officers. The full rollout of training should be completed by April 2020. As with any police use of force, spit and bite guard deployment is recorded to provide transparency and accountability and these are made publicly available on a monthly basis on the MPS website.

While we are discussing officer safety, with permission, I want to mention Tasers.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

No, not in my time at the moment. I am running out of time. I will happily have a discussion about that at another time.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

If that is not a concern we will not discuss that.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Mr Mayor, while your eyes are firmly on Brexit mine are firmly on the safety of Londoners and particularly our incredible police officers. It was eventually agreed by Cressida Dick [DBE QPM, Commissioner, MPS] that frontline officers could have spit guards on 7 February 2019. If you are telling me they are not getting them until April 2020 that is an absolute disgrace. Perhaps you could concentrate more on what is going on in London. The fact BTP officers have them and City of London Police officers have them but the MPS officers have not is absolute scandal. Teaching people to put spit hoods on does not take a couple of years. I would urge you to make sure that this rollout goes out very, very quickly. It is totally inappropriate that other police officers that work on our street have access to spit guards but our MPS police officers do not.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, is that a question? I do not know what that was.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, I think it was commentary. What was the question?

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Do you not agree they should have them before 2020?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

OK, let me deal with it if it is a question. I am surprised that any Assembly Member does not realise the size of our police service in London. Notwithstanding the massive cuts we have 30,000 police officers, which is about a quarter of the police officers in the country. To compare the size of the MPS with the size of small forces across the country beggars belief.

What we have in London is a situation where every officer who uses a bite guard needs to be trained to use them. If the Assembly Member is suggesting that we have all staff taken off frontline policing to be trained to use them at the same time that is a recommendation I cannot accede to.

What I will do, Chair, is listen to the advice of the Commissioner and those who have expertise in policing, which is to train officers as soon as possible in the use of bite guards. MPS officers are being trained more rapidly than any police service around the country. We have a situation where huge progress has been made, this is on top of the other training police officers receive, with that training to be completed by April 2020.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Ridiculous. Thank you, Chair.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I am surprised at the same time we are commending our Commissioner for being appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire she is being criticised by an Assembly Member who has no experience or expertise in policing.

Susan Hall AM: It is you who is being criticised. Thank you, Chair.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

To play party politics ‑‑

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

‑‑ with Dame Commander of the British Empire Cressida Dick is astonishing. I hope she will reflect on this and withdraw her comments.