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.
Please can you provide data on
- Whether spit hoods were used by officers in your force
- The numbers of times they were used on children aged 17 years or younger.
Please can you break down this data from (a) October 2017 – December 2017 and (b) 2018.
Please provide the data broken down by: (a) age; (b) ethnicity; (c) reason for use; and (d) location of use (i.e. in police custody, in public etc)
You then advised that the search period was specifically 01/09/2017-31/12/2017 and 01/01/2018 – 19/09/18
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
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.
- Spit guards were introduced 20th July 2018.
- Two since the date introduced:
13, white European, spitting at officers, public.
17, white European, spitting at officers, public.
Spitting is an horrendous form of assault and we have a duty to help protect those on the front-line as best we can.
Spitting has serious potential health risks as saliva can host a variety of diseases, bacterial infections, and other viruses such as colds and flu. The physiological impact of being spat at by someone who could be carrying an infectious disease can also not be underestimated. Anyone who has been the victim of such an offence faces an agonising six-month wait for test results to come through to find out if transmission has occurred.
Spit guards have been proven to be an appropriate way to protect against such actions. Importantly, they can help resolve a situation using a lower use of force than alternative restraint, so they are in fact better for the person concerned.
They will only be used when absolutely necessary, that is when an officer genuine believes there is a substantial risk of such an assault occurring. It will then be removed as soon as the person no longer poses a danger.