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Spit Hoods - Appropriate or Undignified?
- AuthorKomal Hussain
A spit hood is a mesh fabric hood that is placed over a detained person’s head in order to prevent them from spitting or biting officers.
Spit hoods are currently used by one third of the country’s police forces. Out of the 49 police forces in the UK, spit hoods are currently being used by the following 17 forces:
- Cambridgeshire Constabulary
- Sussex Police
- Northamptonshire Police
- North Wales Police
- Cheshire Police
- British Transport Police
- Hertfordshire Constabulary
- West Yorkshire Police
- Norfolk Police
- Bedfordshire Police
- Suffolk Police
- Derbyshire Constabulary
- West Mercia Police
- Staffordshire Police
- Surrey Police
- Police Scotland
- Hampshire Constabulary
Critics have said spit hoods are distressing and humiliating; can cause panic in the detained person, and make it harder to notice if a prisoner is having difficulty breathing. Others have called this method of restraint as primitive and degrading.
To add to this list, Humberside Police have today stated they are considering the use of spit hoods, although the force have stated that they will be looking at national best practice before introducing any pilot scheme.
It remains to be seen whether other forces will also consider the use of spit hoods. It is also unclear what the consequences of their use will be for individuals in custody, and whether there will be a corresponding increase in police complaints.
Another cause for concern is perhaps the increase in the use of spit hoods by 250% recorded on children aged between 8-15 years. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has expressed concern about their use on children particularly following a disturbing case of a disable child aged 11 years who was placed twice in a spit hood by Sussex Police officers while being detained for a total of more than 60 hours. Eleven police officers and a police staff member were found to have cases to answer for misconduct.
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