Interior Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Roger Lewentz has called for “spit protection hoods” to be placed on detainees by police after the number of spit attacks has grown in recent years.
Officials say there is concern for the health and safety of their police force over the dangerous dribble of offenders who may have infectious diseases and sometimes also spew blood.
In 2010, there were 11 cases reported of police being spat on, but by 2014, that number had risen to 72, according to Die Welt. Preliminary figures for 2015 showed the number of spit attacks to be 83.
The actual number could also be higher, though, because spit may not have been reported as “violence against police” but rather under “other criminal acts”.
Prison guards would also be given the hoods to use and it is yet to be determined whether court or public prosecutor’s office employees would get the hoods, which should cost between €5 and €10.
Rhineland-Palatinate is not the first region to think up protective gear for drooling detainees. Bremen police were issued spit hoods two years ago after a drug addict with Hepatitis C spat at two officers inside a squad car and one officer was hit in the mouth by the saliva.
The head covering was met with controversy there, as critics compared them to the hoods placed on Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Others have suggested an alternative to the hoods: Lower Saxony gave police spit masks that just cover a detainee’s mouth.