16 September 2019
September has seen the Met police confirm they will roll out use of controversial spit hoods on London’s streets despite concerns from Green Assembly Member, Sian Berry and various human rights groups. This follows ‘a review’ but no details of any public consultation have been given.
Sian Berry criticised the initial three-month trial of the hoods that began in custody suites, when it appeared they had been used disproportionately against black Londoners. Sian Berry said:
“The use of spit hoods – essentially a bag over someone’s head – is an extremely dehumanising tactic and I am convinced that alternative protection should be provided to police officers at risk of infection in cases of extreme behaviour.
I’ve asked for an update on how spit hoods are being used in custody suites – and crucially against which groups of Londoners – and its use against under 18s and older Londoners does nothing to reduce my concerns.
In addition the disproportionate use of hoods on black Londoners continues. Only 13 per cent of Londoners are black but the proportion of those who have been subjected to spit hoods is 26 per cent in this latest data.”
Sian has now obtained new data from the Mayor and found that between August 2017 and April this year – the most recently available data – spit hoods have been used in custody suites against 704 Londoners including 36 young people (under the age of 18) and at least one 80-year-old in London.
The Mayor originally halted a planned roll out of spit hoods in custody suits in 2016 and asked the Met to run more consultations to ensure any decision ‘should be informed by public engagement’.