U.K. Police Call For Controversial Spit Hoods During Coronavirus Pandemic
Police in the U.K. are requesting controversial spit hoods be given to officers to protect them during the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee were told by the President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths, that officers were being subjected to behaviours that were putting them at risk of being infected by coronavirus.
Griffiths told the committee that officers should be able to use spit guards on alleged offenders if they claim to have COVID-19.
The guards are designed to stop people biting, spitting or coughing at others.
Sergeant Simon Kempton, Police Federation lead operational for COVID-19, added that an alleged offender had “weaponised” the coronavirus.
“Now more than ever, while COVID-19 is being weaponised, we need those spit guards in the pocket of every single police officer, not just in custody, on the street as well,” he told the committee.
“The crime of spitting or biting someone is terrible at the best of times.
But during this crisis, when COVID-19 is being weaponised against my colleagues, it heightens that fear.”
NSW police officers have been subjected to alleged incidence of spitting and coughing by people claiming to be infected with coronavirus.
A 21-year-old man was charged after allegedly coughing on a NSW Police Force employee. It is alleged the man walked into the Coffs Harbour Police Station on March 24 and approached the woman working behind the counter before coughing on her.
On Saturday, a man claiming to have COVID-19 allegedly spat at officer’s while being arrested on the NSW south coast.
On Sunday, a man was arrested at Bondi Beach after allegedly coughing on officers and claiming to have COVID-19 after being given move-on directions.
However, spit hoods are highly controversial, and have been linked with the deaths of people in custody in the U.S. and U.K..
Human rights group Liberty labels the use of spit hoods as “dangerous, degrading and unjustified”.
“The inhumane devices have been linked to deaths in custody and a robust case for their use has not been made,” its website says.