Controversial spit hood trial launched in London by Met Police

Spit hoods will be trialled in London (Picture: Hertfordshire Police)
Spit hoods will be trialled in London (Picture: Hertfordshire Police)

A spit hood trial announced by police in London has been met with stiff opposition from human rights campaigners.

The Met Police has launched a three-month pilot of the controversial practice in custody suites across north-east London.

It will be rolled out at stations in Barking and Dagenham, Forest Gate, Leyton, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Havering, the Evening Standard reported.

The hoods, which cover a suspect’s head and stop them from spitting or biting police officers, have caused controversy and been branded degrading by human rights campaigners.

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In October, the Met Police scrapped plans to use the spit hoods after a backlash, and the decision to launch a new pilot scheme was criticised by human rights activists.

Oliver Sprague, from Amnesty UK, told the Evening Standard: “In the absence of a robust national plan on spit hoods we oppose this pilot.

“It was a relief when the Met decided earlier this year to put the brakes on hasty plans to roll out spit hoods but there’s no evidence that any benefit has come from this delay.

“What models of spit hoods are going to be used, and crucially in what circumstances are they going to be used? Some models are little more than glorified sacks.

“This is another misguided attempt to rush out the use of spit hoods without detailed national guidance on their use and without a proper programme of training and monitoring.”

Deborah Coles, director of campaign group Inquest, said: “We know that there are situations where they have been used on children and people with mental health issues.

“And there is no national police guidance covering their use. We don’t think their use works in the interests of the detainee or the police.

“It’s an alarming introduction and one that we are fundamentally opposed to.”

In a statement, the Met said: “The purpose of a spit guard is to protect officers from suspects who are spitting and biting by aiming to prevent the transfer of bodily fluids and reduce the risk to them.

“Plans to trial the spit guards have been subject to a consultation involving local and national partners across the boroughs where the pilot will take place.

“There were many supportive voices who recognised the risks posed to officers and the need to protect our staff, and some concerns were raised which have been considered.”