Frontline police officers in Hampshire are to be issued with spit guards to protect themselves and the public from the risk of being spat at.
Following a consultation, both Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police made the decision to issue spit guards once full training has been completed.
David Hardcastle, Assistant Chief Constable of Operations for Hampshire and the Thames Valley
Hampshire officers already use spit guards in custody and this will now be extended to all frontline staff.
126 assaults have been recorded by the force involving spitting since April 2016.
Concerns about their use have been raised by civil rights lawyers.
Kevin Donoghue, Civil Lawyer
Spit guards are made from a light, see-through mesh material which is placed over a suspect's head.
They contain a section which prevents them from spitting.
Officers have reported that blood has been spat at them as well as saliva.
Police say this exposes officers to various risks such as blood-borne viruses and contamination from bodily fluids.
They say spit guards will only be used on suspects who have already spat at officers or who are about to spit.
John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation
Extra training has been provided to all frontline officers with guidance on how to safely and effectively use them.
Officers must be able to explain the reason for it's use and the suspect will be constantly monitored during its use.
Lee Byrne, Personal Safety Training Manager for Hampshire Police