Hoods to halt serial spitters
FRASER Coast police officers will be able to better protect themselves from serial spitters and biters when they are trained in the use of spit hoods over the coming months.
The hoods, which consist of a fine netting that slips over the top of the head and a thin material that loosely covers the mouth and nose area, are used on prisoners to prevent them spitting on police or other prisoners.
They have been quietly rolled out to watch houses following a 12-month trial.
According to the Queensland Police Service, 376 officers made a Work Cover claim between 2002 and 2006 after a spitting related incident.
The total compensation payments made to these officers was more than $850,000. Of the 376 officers, 39 made a secondary claim for psychological injury.
A police spokesperson said the spitting incidents had “a huge impact on both them and their families” because each officer faced disease testing and long, uncertain waits for results on HIV, Hepatitis C and many other diseases.
“Sadly, spitting and biting is an increasingly common form of assault on our officers. Some offenders will spit blood if they have a pre-existing facial injury from a brawl or similar,” she said.While the hoods have so far proven to be beneficial in preventing offenders from spitting on or biting officers, not everyone is happy about their introduction.
Criminal defence lawyers have hit out at the introduction of the hoods without public debate or discussion.
For Maryborough’s Travis George, a partner at Suthers Lawyers, the biggest concern was that the hoods could be used as a way of forcing people to give interviews or making confessions.
“For example if officers were to threaten to put them on and leave them on when the prisoner in the watch house hasn’t justified their use.”
The police spokesperson said the hoods would only be used on people who had bitten or spat – or threatened to spit – at officers.