Spit Hoods: We left hoods and chains on the plantation


There's an old saying in the British black community for those in desperate trouble, its one of those old-time, well worn parables, and it says: " when you're in a hole, call for a rope not a shovel." A recent survey conducted by the Metropolitan Police Federation and reported by the BBC, canvassed the use of spit hoods among serving police officers. Over 90% of those who responded said they supported the use of spit hoods.

This comes in a week where yet again new research from Stop Watch has shown, yet again, that the police use of stop and search continues to increase the racial disproportionally effecting black British citizens. And this is despite the condemnation of Prime Minister Theresa May who laballed the racialisation of some stop and search as ineffective and at times illegal. Upon first entering Downing Street she spoke about this type of discrimination as representing "burning injustices ".

The Stop Watch report demonstrates that the primary rationale police stopping and searching young black people continues to be low level drug searches mainly looking for cannabis. This exposes the oft-repeated lie, that knife crime is the primary motivation for police officers continually stopping and searching young black people. And this call for the roll-out of spit hoods comes in the week where Surrey police were found, by an inquest jury, to have seriously failed in their duty of care to 33-year-old Terry Smith who eventually died before repeatedly complaining of being unable to breath, after having a split placed over his head.

And let's remind ourselves, this call for the roll-out comes of this cruel and medieval torture in the same week when a Bedfordshire police disciplinary panel found that PCs Nicholas Oates, Sanjeev Kalyan and Hannah Ross were all guilty of lying about the circumstances of the violent arrest of Julian Cole in 2013. In short so violent was the arrest of John Cole's neck was broken and he's been left totally paralysed an innovative state. All three police officers conspired to lie about the circumstances of his arrest and have subsequently been sacked from the force. Can we really trust all our law enforcement officers to tell the truth that someone spat at them before they use this option in an already tense situation?

Whatever the concerns of police officers, when assessed against the backdrop of the unrelenting racism in the everyday use of police powers, pales into insignificance by comparison. Recent viral videos showing police officers using overwhelming and disproportionate force for low-level crimes simply consolidate a deep-rooted black community perspective, that suggest that the war on drugs is in fact, a war on us, that police officers are routinely using disproportionate force when engaging with young black people, and that any use of spit hoods in this context, can only serve to exacerbate extremely aggravated police community relations in areas like London, Birmingham and other metropolitan areas.

Community's confidence and trust in the police service is at its lowest level ever according to the Mets own annually published public confidence survey. The introduction of spit hoods is not only totally unnecessary, after all policing has been with us for the last hundred or so years, without as far as I'm aware anyone having died as a result of being spat upon, however unpleasant that is.

Even the Met Police Commissioner Cresida Dick asked argued strongly that spit-hoods could very easily make a bad arrest situation much worse.

Many of us thought that we’d left hoods and chains back on the plantation, introducing them now would be akin to pouring gasoline on our already raging fire. Such is the deep animosity between black communities and the police, any action such as this could have disastrous results for all concerned.

Lee Jasper