17 September 2020
In response to the latest Policing Authority Report on the policing of the pandemic, the Children’s Rights Alliance has joined the Irish Council for Civil Liberties in expressing our deep concern at the use of spit-hoods against children and vulnerable adults. Spit hoods are full hoods which are forced over a person’s head.
Yesterday’s Policing Authority report confirmed that spit hoods had been used on 5 minors during the pandemic. The Authority did not confirm the age of these children. The PA also reported that spit hoods had been used on adults “with perceived mental health difficulties” who would be considered vulnerable. It did not report how many of these incidents there had been. In its last report, the PA said that one person had been left in a spit hood for five hours.
Speaking following the publication of the report, Children’s Rights Alliance Chief Executive Tanya Ward, called for an immediate cessation of the use of spit hoods by the Garda, saying:
“The use of spit hoods is cruel and dehumanising. Spit hoods are panic inducing, and can mask signs of illness and suffocation. It is deeply concerning that An Garda Síochána has resorted to using them on children without any apparent risk assessment.
Many children already in conflict with the law are extremely vulnerable. Using spit masks on children with poor health, a mental health condition, with learning difficulties or who have experienced trauma could have a devastating effect. The Government has been moving ahead with a progressive youth justice strategy and the use of spit hoods flies in the face of this.”
The Policing Authority also sought and received confirmation from the distributors of the spit-hoods in operation in Ireland that they “have not been tested for their capacity to prevent airborne or respiratory droplets which spread COVID-19”. These are the same model of spit hood which is used by the PSNI, which Amnesty International reported as being “not an effective means to prevent COVID-19”. The findings in the Authority report mirrors points raised by ICCL in its recent submission to the Garda Commissioner’s review of the use of spit-hoods.
The Policing Authority Report also expressed concerns about the policing of recent protest events in Dublin and indicated that it will raise this issue with the Garda Commissioner at its next meeting on 30 September. ICCL has also written to Garda management expressing our concerns about the policing of recent protests and counter protests, including some violent incidents at these protests.
ICCL submission to Garda review of use of spit hoods: https://www.iccl.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ICCL-submission-to-An-Garda-Siochana-on-spit-hoods.pdf
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