Using spit hoods on children has no place in a civilised society

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Using spit hoods on children has no place in a civilised society

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 09, 2016 11:15 am

What on earth were officers from Sussex police thinking when they detained an 11-year-old girl with a neurological disability similar to autism, put her in leg restraints and placed a spit hood over head?

The girl’s treatment is particularly disturbing because she was subjected to these things on four occasions and many police officers were involved. Did any of these officers have reservations about carrying out these actions against someone so young and so vulnerable, or did they believe they were acting appropriately? That is not clear, although Sussex police has said in a statement that it will respond to any “new learning” identified. Hopefully this learning will include not treating other vulnerable children in this way in the future .

The girl, referred to as Child H, was detained for over 60 hours without an appropriate adult by Sussex police in 2012. She was arrested three times and was twice held overnight in police cells, without a parent, guardian or social worker present to support her. Her disability had not been diagnosed at the time of the police contact, but her mother had told officers she believed she had an autism spectrum disorder.

In a report today highlighting this profoundly alarming case, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has made various conduct findings. A custody sergeant and an inspector who failed to ensure an appropriate adult was present have both since retired. The force took management action against six custody sergeants found to have failed to ensure an appropriate adult was present. Another custody sergeant found to have failed to ensure the girl was dealt with quickly was disciplined along with two police constables who restrained the girl in handcuffs.

The use of the spit hood itself on such a young girl was not found to amount to misconduct by the IPCC but the girl’s mother and her lawyer, Gus Silverman from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, have called for an immediate ban on the use of these hoods for children. Silverman said using such devices on children is a breach of their human rights and amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Spit hoods are a relatively new addition to the tools deployed by UK police officers and many forces refuse to use them, believing they can manage suspects who spit without resorting to these unpleasant nets. The meshed hoods have an eerie and rather sinister appearance once put over the head of their targets. The manufacturer of the spit hoods used in the UK boasts that one size fits all and that they are disposable after one use, making them very hygienic. In the US spit hoods have been implicated in several deaths, where suspects in police custody were unable to breathe after vomiting in the hood.

Police custody is frightening enough for a child, but especially if they have a mental health problem or disability. How much more terrified is the child likely to be when a mesh device is thrown over their head, as if a hunter is trying to capture an exotic wild animal?

Being spat at is obviously unpleasant and some officers have expressed fears of being exposed to serious viruses such as hepatitis C if they are on the receiving end of it. But the fact that several large police forces seem to manage without resorting to such unpleasant devices suggests that it is perfectly possible to police effectively without them. Thankfully they are not yet an entrenched part of British policing and they should be banned before this can happen.
The safety of police officers and of suspects needs to be balanced. In the case of Sussex police the balance was wrong. As for the disturbing use of police cells to detain children with mental health problems, this unacceptable practice is thankfully on its way out. Home secretary Theresa May has pledged that the policing and sentencing bill will include legislation to ban the use of police cells to detain children with mental health problems.

It is not clear when this legislation will come into effect but it should be prioritised so that children can be protected from such inappropriate practices as soon as possible.

Neither spit hoods nor incarceration in a police cell should have any place in the management of children with mental health problems who come into contact with the police.

I find this absolutely horrific.  To do it to a child is bad enough, to do it to a child with bad mental health problems who struggles to understand the world anyway is just unspeakable.


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Re: Using spit hoods on children has no place in a civilised society

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 09, 2016 12:30 pm

HOLY BAT CRAP ...where's child protective services?
SWEET JESUS, I hate these situations; there are far too many children {over here} that do not get diagnosed - wander through childhood with little to zero agency help because the parents 'FEAR THE SYSTEM' - do not want their child labeled - or just have learned to coop with their own special needs child in their 'best way possible' method at home.  But to have this little girl ...and I'm assuming she's not an orphan/ward of the state - be left in police custody --- OMG. 
HEINOUS and beyond belief!


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