Policing Authority calls for 'explicit guidelines' for use of spit hoods on teens

The chairperson of the Policing Authority has expressed concern about the lack of ‘explicit guidelines’ on the use of ‘spit hoods’ on children aged 12 to 18.
Policing Authority calls for 'explicit guidelines' for use of spit hoods on teens

The chairperson of the Policing Authority has expressed concern about the lack of ‘explicit guidelines’ on the use of ‘spit hoods’ on children aged 12 to 18.

Bob Collins told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that he wants “explicit guidelines” about the circumstances in which the spit hoods can be used on teens.

The spit hoods prevent a person detained by gardaí from spitting or coughing on them.

Mr Collins said the authority was worried that garda procedures state only that the hoods are not to be used on children under 12 and was "silent" on their use on children aged 12-18.

He said he had requested clarification from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on the issue and wants the use of spit hoods to be recognised as a "use of force", which requires a process of open reporting.

Mr Collins also said he was "somewhat reassured" by the Commissioner's “clear indication” that the use and availability of anti-spit hoods will be strictly limited to the current crisis.

He also disputed the accuracy of figures "in the public domain" re the number of spit hoods that have been ordered, but did not clarify the number.

    The current restrictions started on Friday, March 27. They mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

Mr Collins went on to say that the Policing Authority was also concerned that garda recruits who have not yet completed their training were being deployed in the current crisis.

He said he understood that the commissioner did not envisage the recruits would use their garda powers, but he was concerned they would find themselves in situations of difficulty without those powers.

They should be accompanied at all times and operate "only in an assisting capacity," he said.

The limitation of their powers was welcome, he said, but he wanted an assurance that they will return to the garda college to resume training before passing out.

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