Nearly all Metropolitan Police officers want to carry spit guards, a new survey suggests.
A poll carried out by the force’s police federation found 5,269 out of 5,572 members questioned, 95%, thought all Met officers should be issued with the mesh hoods.
And 5,133 (92%) said they would be prepared to carry one after they had been trained.
In September force chief Commissioner Cressida Dick said using the guards on the streets could make officers more likely to get “a good kicking” while struggling with aggressive suspects.
They are used around three times per week in custody suites in the capital, but Ms Dick has not permitted their use on the beat.
This is despite British Transport Police – who potentially attend the same call-outs – using the hoods.
Results of a Metropolitan Police Federation survey published on Tuesday showed around half of those who responded, 2,331, had been spat at while on duty in the past two years, and 562 were bitten.
One officer said he was forced to take a two-week course of preventative drugs after he was spat at in a custody suite, and as a result of the side effects was not allowed to hold his newborn daughter.
Federation chairman Ken Marsh said: “Being spat at is abhorrent. My colleagues do not in any way deserve to go to work and be assaulted in this manner.
“Colleagues have told us they have been spat at in the face far too often. That’s horrific. It can go into your eyes, into your mouth, you could get infections and have to undergo a course of medical treatment.
“Officers protecting the people of London should not be subject to this sort of disgusting assault when they are carrying out their duty.”
She said: “In the vast majority of instances it wouldn’t have helped at all because you don’t know it’s going to happen.”
The guards, used by 37 forces in England and Wales, have been criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International, which called them “a cruel and dangerous form of restraint”.
The Federation survey suggested 1,300 out of 3,148 officers who had ever been bitten or spat at did not report the incident to the force.
Mr Marsh, who said there had been a “progressive conversation” with the Commissioner about the issue, added: “The danger and frequency of this disgusting act against my colleagues is clearly happening more often than the force suspected.
“Anecdotally we knew that officers were being spat at far too often on duty, but now we have the evidence the Commissioner has asked for to back up these stories.
“Our message is simple. If you don’t want to be placed in a spit guard, don’t spit at a police officer.”