Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has criticised the position taken by the Policing Board in respect of the use of Spit and Bite Guards by the PSNI.
Following a meeting of the Policing Board on the 3rd of February, the party’s policing spokesperson said:
“The Policing Board adopted the position that: ‘The Board accepts the continued use of Spit and Bite Guards by the Chief Constable subject to an agreed governance framework that will be reviewed on a regular basis.’
“The proposal was passed by a majority vote. Sinn Féin voted against the proposal and we did so on the basis that the PSNI were asked by the Board to bring evidence that supported the need for their use. No evidence was brought forward to substantiate that their use would prevent the spread of infectious diseases including Covid.
“On the contrary, Human rights organisations have described spit and bite guards as ‘distressing, degrading and potentially lethal’; ‘cruel and dangerous’ and ‘medieval and barbaric’. They have highlighted particular problems in relation to children and to those with mental health difficulties.
“Amnesty International and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) both stated that: ‘the act of placing a hood on an arrested person, and the likely ensuing struggle has the potential to cause significant aerosol generation. The use of spit hoods could therefore not only fail to offer protection against infection but could in fact place Officers at greater risk.’
“Sinn Féin also made it clear that these spit and bite hoods should never be used to constrain a child.
“The use of spit and bite guards is not the way to adhere to human rights standards, improve policing or to build community confidence in the PSNI.”