CRAE responds to Metropolitan Police announcement on spit hoods
Responding to today’s announcement from the Metropolitan Police that they plan to extend the trial of the use of spithoods to all custody suites in London, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England said:
“Hooding children is distressing and dangerous.
The evidence shows that the children who are in contact with the police are disproportionately likely to have experienced neglect, abuse, been in care, have language or learning difficulties or other vulnerabilities. Putting these children through more trauma by restraining and hooding them is not only damaging but potentially unsafe - adults have died following the use of spithoods. Alternatives such as visors or spit guards worn by police officers are used in other forces in England to deal with disgusting incidents of spitting. The Met says, understandably, it needs to protect officers from harm but that mustn’t come at the cost of children’s safety.
We are concerned that this decision has been taken without first publishing an evaluation of the initial trial. There must now be a full, public consultation and safety assessment before any final decision is taken about the long term use of these potentially harmful spithoods.”
Notes to Editors:
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) is part of Just for Kids Law and works with 150 organisations and individual members to promote children’s rights. CRAE’s work on children and policing in London is funded by Trust for London.
Each year CRAE publishes an annual State of Children’s Rights report containing data and analysis on issues affecting children’s human rights. For our 2016 report, 17 out of 40 police forces in England responded to CRAE’s FOI request to tell us they currently used spithoods - with just over half (10) being able to provide CRAE with data on their use on children. This showed that:
- In 2015 spit hoods were used on at least 12 children in England with the youngest being 13 years old.
- In the first nine months of 2016 alone (to the end of September) the use of spit hoods on children doubled and were used on at least 24 children in England (with the youngest recorded age being 15 years old).
- The true figures on the use of spit hoods on children are likely to be much larger.
None of the policies or risk assessments supplied by those police forces using spit hoods included a specific assessment of the potential dangers or risks of using them on children.
The full briefing - including a case study of an 11 year old disabled girl who was hooded – can be found here.