I don’t suppose he meant to but Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, sparked off a right shit storm on Twatter last night after reversing the Met’s decision to trial Spit Hoods.
Whilst not entirely ruling them out he said
Any attack on officers carrying out their duties is completely unacceptable, and the use of protective equipment is sometimes necessary.
The decision on whether to use intrusive tactics is a highly emotive one and should be informed by public engagement.
There is nothing wrong with public engagement per se but surely the safety of our Police Officers (and public) is paramount. Did we ask the public what their opinion was before using handcuffs to restrain violent prisoners? Should we have done? Should we now revisit that?
Surely the decision to use Protective Equipment, which Spit Hoods are basically, is surely an operational matter for Chief Officers? The Commissioner has a Duty of Care for the Elf and Safery of his officers. Who is the Mayor to ride roughshod over that?
Some arguements on the Twattersphere last night really got quite heated. ‘Friends’ were falling out over it. A surprising number of people were arguing against them. Why?
If Johnny feels it is a little bit degarding to have a Spit Hood put over his head, or has a panic attack or feels a tad claustrophobic, is that worse than the potential consequences for the officer being spat on. It is most unpleasant to be spat on, vile, but the unpleasantness is not really the issue, it is the potential transmission of diseases, the extended wait for the results of tests, the course of sntiviral treatment. That in itself is unpleasant I believe.
If little Johnny insisted in struggling and punching the officer would we be having this discussion about restraining him and putting him in handcuffs?
Whr the rights of a spitting, hissing prisoner more important than the rights of the officer(s) trying to restrain him? Do the families of the officers not feature in this arguement? The fears and worries spitting must bring into the family home are real, should we simply ignore that?
Finally, the simplest option is LITTLE JOHNNY COULD SIMPLY STOP SPITTING.
I’m sure one of you will correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe that Spit Hoods are used on compliant, non-spitting prisoners.
Amnesty UK weighed into the arguement with their justification for opposing (partially) the use of Spit Hoods
Some hoods play an important role in protecting police. Some are v.dangerous & shouldn’t be used – we want them to be safe for all.
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) September 6, 2016
But they went quiet when it was pointed out that their previous view was at odds with last night’s contribution.
Have trials by all means, compare brand versus brand, design versus design, but DO SOMETHING.
With the government’s culling of the Police Service it is more important than ever to protect this endangered species. We certainly don’t need political interference in operational policing matters, but I fear we are going to get it.