More than 700 Kent Police officers have been given protection against being spat at by people they arrest.

Police have been trained in using spit guards that go over the heads of arrested people.

The guard is fully breathable and is 98 per cent see through. It will only be used when the behaviour of a person being detained causes concern for the safety of the public or officer.

Spitting is not common but often goes un-reported.

An officer currently has to wait up to six months if they are spat at to find out if they have been infected and in many cases they have to take medication which can side-effects.

Assistant Chief Constable Tony Blaker said: “Kent Police has a duty of care to protect its officers in the course of their duties and spit guards are an additional piece of equipment that will protect officers, and in some cases the public too.

“There can be no excuses for spitting – it is completely unacceptable behaviour. Therefore our message is simple: Don’t spit and officers won’t have to apply a guard.”

A spokesman for Kent Police said: "The vulnerability of juveniles and people experiencing a mental health crisis, acute behavioural disorder, or any other psychological impairment will be taken into account by officers considering applying a spit guard."