Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.55 28 Apr 2020


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Anti-spit guards have been used by gardaí 15 times this month.

Figures released by gardaí today show there have been 31 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against gardaí since April 6th.

It was revealed last month that gardaí were being equipped with 'spit hoods' during the coronavirus crisis amid concerns over such attacks.

The fabric and mesh 'spit hoods' are designed to be placed over a suspect's head to prevent them from spitting at others.

Today's figures show members of the force have had to use the anti-spit guards 15 times in the past three weeks.

Gardaí say the use of the spit guards is a 'last resort' in their response, and can only be deployed when there is "clear evidence of spitting now or where a member believes there is a clear and tangible threat of spitting posed by the subject".

Commissioner Drew Harris suggested that 15 uses of the spit hoods in the current circumstances "shows a very moderate and responsible use" by the force.

He explained: "These spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel are reprehensible, and show the challenges members of An Garda Síochána are facing in keeping people safe in unique circumstances.

"We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre our Code of Ethics and human rights.”

While spit hoods are used by a number of international police forces, some rights' organisations have criticised them as being 'dangerous and degrading'.

Gardaí are set to review the use of the spit guards here in September.

Main image: File photo of a spit hood on a mannequin. Picture by: Simon Sachseder/DPA/PA Images

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