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Shocking video shows police officers being spat at

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Avon and Somerset Constabulary plans to introduce spit guards, which they will roll out in January 2018.

Announcing the move, the force has released this shocking video footage:

Officers from have endured 79 "degrading" spit assaults since April, many of which have been shared on Twitter using the hashtags #ProtectTheProtectors and #SpatAt.

Video footage shows male and female officers alike being spat at as they struggle to restrain angry, swearing suspects who have spat onto their bare skin, including on the officer's faces and even into their mouths.

The officers have described the "vile" assaults as "incredibly worrying and upsetting" - particularly amid concerns about the risk of diseases including HIV and hepatitis.

"Each day we face being spat at, putting us at risk of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis.

"The degrading assault can also have a lasting psychological impact.

"We believe our officers should have the right kit to do their job and this includes spit guards."

– Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Cullen

One officer, Sergeant John Shaddick, shared a recent "terrifying" experience during which an arrested woman with hepatitis C was continually spitting blood at officers.

He said: "In the van she said: 'The first person I see I will spit in their face, and I'm contaminated'. She had hepatitis C.

"We needed to get her out of the van and into a cell. She was continually spitting, spit that was bloody. It was disgusting - she was trying to infect us.

"The only kit I could offer my officers to protect themselves was riot helmets. We were all double gloved, but it was terrifying.

"After the shift we all went home to our kids wondering what we were taking home, worrying about what had got into our skin."

Sergeant Shaddick added: "This type of experience affects officers, and it happens on a daily basis."

Data from the Welfare Information Form reveals that just last week four out of 28 assaults against officers involved being spat at.

And since April 2017, there have been 79 spitting incidents out of 487 recorded assault against officers - accounting for 16.2 per cent of all recorded assaults.

The force have said spit guards will only be used by trained officers in situations where someone says they are going to spit, has attempted to spit or has already spat.

"We are pleased to see the introduction of spit guards for front line officers.

"This option affords those officers, who are increasingly subject to this abhorrent act, the chance to protect themselves from the risks of serious communicable diseases.

"This is a protection and prevention measure and we welcome the support offered by the Constabulary in making this equipment available."

– Chairman Vince Howard, Avon and Somerset Police Federation