A RANK-and-file police union boss said spitting at officers was a horrible crime.

The comments from Insp Mark Andrews, chairman of the Wiltshire Police Federation, came after Manchester man Jamie Howard was jailed for seven days for spitting at a Swindon sergeant and laughing as he said “I’ve got Aids”.

The 25-year-old was being taken north to face justice for robbing a drug dealer, for which he is now serving seven-and-a-half years.

Reacting to the case, Mr Andrews said: “I’ve been spat and personally I’ve always found that worse than being punched.

It’s a horrible crime. It’s disgusting – especially when the person is threatening the officer with a blood-borne virus.

“It has an impact on the officer’s mental health, on their family and leads them to have tests at hospital and a long wait for the results.”

He thanked the chief constable for investing in spit hoods - material placed over a suspect’s head to prevent spittle from landing on others.