Date Responded 12 February 2020

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

  1. Does your police force use spit hoods on suspects?
  2. Does your force use them only on suspects in custody or also in public places?
  3. How many times has your force used a spit hood every month from January 2016 to November 2019?
  4. For each time a spit hood was used, can you please highlight whether it was used in custody or in public?
  5. For each time a spit hood was used, can you please share the age of the person the spit hood was used on?
  6. For each time a spit hood was used, can you please highlight whether it was used on a person judged to have a mental illness?

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.

  1. Yes
  2. Both
  3. Spitguards were first issued to Northumbria Police officers on 24th July 2018 so we can only provide from that date

Oct 2019         25

Sep 2019         37

Aug 2019         35

Jul 2019          34

Jun 2019         40

May 2019        38

Apr 2019         45

Mar 2019         39

Feb 2019         27

Jan 2019         30

Dec 2018         38

Nov 2018         27

Oct 2018         31

Sep 2018         26

Aug 2018         37


Public place – 359 times

Custody - 163 times



Perceived age             count

11 – 17                          43

18 – 34                        286

35 – 49                        171

50 – 64                           9

6. The subject was perceived by the attending officers dealing as Mentally Disabled on 28 occasions.  Further interrogation of the recording systems suggested this related to 21 actual persons.


It should be noted The term “mentally disabled” is an exact lift from the recording systems used. There is no definition of what type or mental health issue the subject is suffering from.   This could be a temporary, transient or permanent issue.  

The Use of Force recording is all to do with the officer’s perception or understanding of the incident.  Officers are not required to record any additional rationale for their selection of the boxes. 

It should also be noted that a person may be restrained in both public and custody settings.

The recording system used requires each officer to account for the use of force, they do not necessarily relate to a specific person, eg 350 records do not necessarily relate to 350 separate persons having the spit guard used.   Several officers could have been involved in restraining that person and have therefore submitted multiple records for one subject.

For this reason the results provided in our response should not be taken as an accurate account for the actual numbers provided, but they are the best we can provide from recording systems used within the permitted time constraints.


If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would expect that you to take into consideration the factors highlighted above so as not to mislead members of the public or official bodies or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.

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