'Hannibal Lecter' style bite guards to be used by Devon and Cornwall Police
PUBLISHED: 12:07 14 January 2019
Police in Devon are set to introduce spit and bite guards (SBG) to limit the number of assaults on officers, staff and other emergency service workers such as paramedics and nurses.
The guards prevent those in custody spitting or biting and training in their use for officers and staff is being carried out.
In the film Silence of the Lambs and subsequent sequels, the character of Dr Hannibal Lecter was featured wearing a guard to prevent him biting prison staff.
Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith said: “The SBG is being introduced for the safety and support of our officers, staff and those we work alongside.
“Biting and spitting is an atrocious act and the new SBGs will provide additional protection to help keep everyone safe.
“Too often, officers, security guards or NHS staff are spat upon, not just with saliva but also with blood and other body fluids.”
Between 2016 and 2017, 216 officers and staff were spat on in Devon and Cornwall alone, accounting for 18 per cent of all assaults against police staff.
Supt Drummond-Smith added: “Devon and Cornwall Police needs to ensure the safeguarding of those in our care, with particular consideration given to those who are vulnerable or have mental health needs.
“The force has taken time to consider a number of options to protect officers and staff; taking into account relevant research and the suitability of various alternatives.
“In addition to this, we have also ensured that the preferred option has been robustly medically tested to ensure the safety of those in our care.”
Devon and Cornwall Police will join 26 other forces nationally who have deployed SBGs in operational and detention settings to protect officers, staff and detainees.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill was recently amended to double the maximum penalty available for assaults on emergency workers, including spitting.
Emergency services across the South West came together last year to launch the #unacceptable campaign; in partnership with Exeter City Football Club and Exeter Chiefs Rugby club.
This campaigned was aimed at raising awareness of and reducing the number of incidents of assaults on emergency workers.
South Western Ambulance Service chief executive Ken Wenman, said: “Any assault on staff across the emergency services is unacceptable. We therefore support our police colleagues in the safe and appropriate use of these spit and bite guards.”