ANY offender whose blood or saliva comes into contact with a police officer will be compelled to undergo a mandatory blood test, under new laws to be introduced by the State Government. Premier Jay Weatherill will today outline the measure – and another significant community safety initiative involving police – at the Police Association of SA annual delegates conference.
The move will ensure any officer faced with the risk of contracting a communicable disease is made aware of the possible threat much faster, instead of having to rely on their own test results – often many months later. Mr Weatherill said police needed to be protected. “We know that there are some instances where police officers are exposed to infectious diseases, such as hepatitis C or HIV when an officer is arresting, restraining or detaining an offender,” he said.
“These laws mean that if an officer is exposed to a risk of contracting these diseases, the offender will be required to undertake a blood test. While officers are already blood-tested in these situations, some diseases are not detectable for months. This means officers can be left waiting for a considerable amount of time, which can be stressful for them and their families. Test results from the offender will provide early information to reduce the anxiety about risk of infection.”
Police say that over the past year, there were 279 incidents where officers came into contact with blood, 118 incidents involving officers being spat on and two occasions where an officer suffered a needle-stick injury.