Postcard from... Bremen


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The Independent Online

They look not unlike the kind of inflatable plastic hoods that are sometimes attached to hair dryers to speed up drying.

But if the authorities in Bremen get their way, the outlandish white transparent headgear will soon become standard issue for police in the north German port city. The new bit of police kit is a “spit protection hood”.

Hundreds of them have just been issued to the city’s law enforcement officers for testing. The measure is in response to an attack which took place earlier this year in which a drug addict infected with hepatitis C spat through the window of a police patrol car at four officers sitting inside. Spitting at the police, it seems, is “in” in Bremen.

Police say there are between one and four “extreme“ cases of spitting at officers each month. Bremen’s police union says the hoods provide valuable protection. It points out that violent detainees sometimes spit blood, raising the possibility of HIV infection.

However, opponents complain that the new headgear is reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay’s prison regime and have demanded  its withdrawal, while the  city’s Left Party complain  that the hoods effectively conceal a police officer’s identity. The hoods are now  on test for a year.