Sadiq Khan has been criticised for failing to publicise the fact that the Metropolitan Police will continue using spit guards in custody suites following their ‘satisfactory’ testing in five London boroughs.
A number of UK forces already use the guards when a detainee attempts to bite or spit on officers, behaviour which carries significant risk of officers becoming infected with hepatitis or TB.
The Met’s piloting of their use was delayed following objections from Mayor Khan who, it later emerged, only learned of the plans from media coverage.
Mr Khan now says the pilot scheme’s results were “satisfactory” and, in a written answer to London Assembly member Susan Hall, has confirmed that Met Commissioner Cressida Dick “has taken an operational decision to continue with their use in custody suites”.
Although the Mayor’s answer was published on the City Hall website, members of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee say he has failed to proactively publicise “a major policy decision”.
Committee chair Steve O’Connell AM contrasted the lack of a press release announcing the decision to deploy spit guards permanently with the Mayor’s publicising of his annual busking competition.
He said: “This is a major policy decision which should not have been slipped out in this manner.
“The fact that police officers are being spat at during their duties in the first place, is frankly disgusting. This decision is an important one, that the public should be made aware of.
“The Mayor should have announced this decision fully and openly. If a busking competition deserves a public statement, then decisions on sensitive policing issues should also merit the appropriate level of transparency.
“The Committee will question the Commissioner about this when she appears before us next month.”