Two officers from Tower Hamlets were taken to St Thomas’s Hospital by blue light in emergency vehicles yesterday evening after they were spat at by a man they believe has an infectious disease. The incident comes just four days after the Shadow Home Secretary, the MP for next door’s Hackney North and Stoke Newington, tweeted “no evidence that spit hoods are necessary or useful” after Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary announced their frontline staff will be issued with the protection after being spat on more than 430 times in less than a year. Her tweet attracted 1,500 replies, including from Met Police Superintendent Roy Smith, who asked Diane Abbott to meet with one of his colleagues “infected with Hepatitis C” after being spat at.
Dozens of other officers hit out at Jeremy Corbyn’s right-hand woman, sharing stories of colleagues infected with life-threatening diseases, such as Hepatitis C and tuberculosis, after being spat at. At 6.32pm yesterday Tower Hamlets Police tweeted: “Two #ResponseTeamB officers blue lighted to St Thomas’s hospital for emergency care after being spat at by believed contagious male.”
Dozens of officers and concerned members of the public sent their well wishes to the officers and many were quick to tag Ms Abbott in tweets to let her know. Several accused her of being in denial over the use of spit hoods which are placed over prisoners’ head to stop them biting or spitting at officers.
Superintendent Smith reacted to the information by tweeting: “Best wishes to colleagues who face these dangers daily.” Just two hours before Tower Hamlets Police revealed two of its officers had been spat at, Ms Abbott published an article on blog LabourList saying she could not support the use of spit hoods until she had “carefully weighed” evidence from the UK and other countries where they are used.
She said police tend to be “strongly in favour” of their use yet “many civil liberties organisations” are against their use as they believe it is a “primitive form of punishment”. The Labour MP refused to take a solid stance on the issue and despite agreeing nobody should be spat at she questioned what evidence there is regarding police officers running the risk of serious communicable diseases from spitting. Ms Abbott agreed police officers must be protected as they protect the public but did not provide a solution as she hit out at the Government. She concluded: “Unlike the Tories, who have undermined policing and police safety with ferocious cuts, we will not stint on the resources required to give the public and the police the protection they deserve.”
POLICE officers in Diane Abbott’s neighbouring constituency have been rushed to A&E after being spat at in a vile attack by a potentially contagious man – just days after she said spit hoods were ‘unnecessary’.