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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 15:47 GMT
Police in HIV tests for suspects plea
Police cell
The SPF is concerned about attacks by suspects
MSPs have called on Scotland's justice minister to carry out an urgent consultation on whether to allow the compulsory blood testing of criminal suspects.

The Public Petitions Committee has been discussing comments from ministers in reply to the suggestion by the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).

The SPF, which represents 98% of officers in Scotland, estimates that about 150 are bitten or scratched every year.

It said officers faced an "increasing risk" of infection from criminals and drug addicts infected with blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Bill Aitken
It is only reasonable to offer the police measures that will give them the earliest possible reassurance or treatment where this is necessary

Bill Aitken, Tory MSP
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken welcomed the proposals and said justice minister Jim Wallace should act.

"Aids does not discriminate and many Scottish lives have been devastated through infection," he said.

"It is only reasonable to offer the police measures that will give them the earliest possible reassurance or treatment where this is necessary."

The SPF said compulsory testing of assailants would allow officers to know much sooner whether they were at risk if they think they might have been exposed .

Under the proposal, the law would be changed to make it an offence to refuse to give a test.

The committee heard from one officer earlier this year who explained how his wife had lost her baby from stress when he had to wait three months for test results after a drug addict spat into his mouth.

Campaigners have raised fears that the move could represent a breach of human rights.

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  The BBC's Jane Chilton
"As the law stands criminals are protected"
See also:

13 Dec 02 | Health
11 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
26 Sep 02 | Health
01 May 02 | Health
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