Spit hoods used more than 100 times in Essex

10 April 2019, 07:41 | Updated: 10 April 2019, 07:42

Spit Guard - TVP

A Heart investigation has found police in Essex have used spit hoods 104 times.

The controversial masks are put over a suspect's head to stop them spitting.

They've been used on under-18s on eight occasions, and on people with mental health problems 28 times.

"If you're using it (a spithood) on someone that has a mental health condition, it seems to me quite likely the psychological impact of the device could well make their situation and their suffering worse," said Oliver Feeley-Sprague from Amnesty UK.

But the Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, told us police don't have many options if they want to defend themselves.

"There's two issues for me here," he said.

"One is, what's the alternative?

"Police officers will have to go hands on and use more physical force as in placing the individual to the ground - which could have another outcome which was less desirable."