#MetropolitanPolice officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as #spithoods, to cover suspects’ heads during arrests and in police stations.
The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevents exposure to diseases and serious infection.
In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units will receive material and training on how to use the “#spitguards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.” Spit hoods are not to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but detail on their use after the pilot scheme expires has not been provided.
The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which have deemed the use of spit hoods “an alarming development” and as “cruel and degrading.” The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at #GuantanamoBay. Even the Met was once opposed to them. “A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” said Liberty director Martha Spurrier. “We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people. “Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Met police to think again.” Deborah Coles from legal charity Inquest echoed the sentiment. “This is an alarming development with seemingly no debate or consultation and will do nothing to assist police and community relations,” she said. “The use of a hood as a piece of police equipment is frightening and raises real concerns about its potential for misuse against the most vulnerable and discriminated against sections of society.” ✋@Freedom_Faction 👇🏾#policestate