spit hood

Scores of police and supporters say they will boycott People's Postcode Lottery after £450,000 donation to campaign group which opposes spithoods and bodycams

Police officers across the country are saying they will boycott the People's Postcode Lottery after it handed £450,000 to the civil liberties charity Liberty.

The funding boost for the charity - set up in 1934 - has sent many police officers and supporters into an angry frenzy after two recent high-profile campaigns which castigated police forces for the introduction of spit hoods and bodycams.

The spithoods were brought in by a number of forces in an effort to prevent arrested suspects from spitting saliva, phlegm and blood onto the faces and uniforms of officers while the bodycams have been slowly rolled out across the UK ensuring evidence is gathered at the first opportunity - and ensuring false-claims about police misbehaviour is countered with incontrovertible video proof.

In February this year campaign group Liberty described spithoods as "distressing, degrading and potentially lethal", claiming that "justifications for their use do not stand up to scrutiny".

A Liberty spokesperson said: "Being hooded by the police is traumatic, and using spit hoods against vulnerable groups is particularly disturbing. In the first nine months of 2017, spit hoods were used against at least 68 children – including a boy as young as 10."

Tweeting in reply to Liberty's campaign, John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which represents 120,000 police officers, wrote: "I promise I'm not trying to be difficult, but spitting at police officers is dangerous, degrading and unjustified. Do you have a view on spitting at police officers - and do you have an alternative to spit guards as a means of preventing it from happening?"

He later added: "I will always listen to reasoned argument and take part in sensible debate, this is neither. You throw out a statement with no suggestion of an alternative (which is to use more force). Come on a #SpitGuard training session, come on a panel with me to discuss it, genuine offer?"

The following month Liberty launched a campaign claiming bodycams were putting the public's rights at risk, arguing that "this use of intrusive technology makes a mockery of our right to privacy".

Liberty claimed that "police body worn video [BWV]cameras can record in private spaces and could be used alongside technologies like facial recognition to identify and track people in real time."

Leaping to the defence of rank and file officers, John Apter, PFEW chair tweeted: "Dear Liberty, not sure what’s going on but you appear to have lost the plot! It was groups such as Liberty who demanded police to be more transparent and have BWV to show how corrupt we were. In reality it’s shown how professional we are & what we have to put up with!"

Liberty's recent boast that it had received nearly half a million pounds from the People's Postcode Lottery has now prompted howls of outrage from police and police supporters, with many stating they would now boycott the lottery and cancel their subscription.

One officer Tweeted: "@PostcodeLottery you have just lost yourselves 100’s of subscribers... unbelievable and disgusting that you support libertyhq who are anti-Police and promote false info and hate towards them poor choice of ‘charity’

Devon and Cornwall Police officer Sgt Harry Tangye linked to the Liberty tweet adding: "I think some police officers would be rather surprised at this".

Plymouth Herald