Children’s Rights Alliance expresses ‘deep concern’ at use of spit hoods by gardaí

Children's Rights Alliance expresses 'deep concern' at use of spit hoods by gardaí

Tanya Ward

The Children’s Rights Alliance has joined the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) in expressing “deep concern” at the use of spit hoods against children and vulnerable adults by Gardaí during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest Policing Authority report on the policing of the pandemic confirmed that spit hoods had been used on 5 minors during the pandemic, as well as an unknown number of incidents where the spit hoods had been used on adults with “perceived mental health difficulties”.

In a previous report, the Policing Authority had revealed that one person had been left in a spit hood for five hours.

The ICCL had previously criticised the use of the hoods as “a form of ill treatment and, when other factors are present, a form of torture.”

In response to the latest report, Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive Tanya Ward said: “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”.

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