A man wearing a gauze hood on his head.

Queensland child commission, advocates call for use of spit hoods on minors to be banned

The use of spit hoods on young people is “completely unacceptable and should be outlawed,” Queensland’s Family and Child Commission (QFCC) says.

Principal Commissioner Luke Twyford says there are a range of alternatives to the fabric hoods, which are put over a detainee’s head to prevent spitting or biting.

Mr Twyford’s remarks on ABC Radio Brisbane follow revelations Queensland police have used spit hoods on 20 young people in Queensland watch houses since 2015.

Yesterday a budget estimates hearing was told that the hoods were in use up until about seven months ago and there had been eight instances of use in the state since 2019.

Greens MP Michael Berkman asked Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll how many times spit hoods had been used.

Michael Berkman asked about the use of spit hoods in Queensland.(AAP: Glenn Hunt)

Ms Carroll acknowledged that Queensland was one of the few jurisdictions where the hoods were still in use.

“We are looking at very closely working with the Children’s Commissioner to stop that use in the future,” she said.

“We are working closely with the Children’s Commissioner to look at other options.”

When asked what steps the government was taking to ban the use of spit hoods and restraint chairs, Police Minister Mark Ryan said the government needed to get the policy mix right in order to work with the operational requirements of the Queensland police.

“Certainly it would be the government’s view that we would work alongside the Police Service to ensure that they had appropriate use of force options which did not include spit hoods,” he said.

A woman in a police uniform sitting at a police station.
Katarina Carroll says are working to put an end to the use of spit hoods. (ABC News: Lucas Hill)

Ms Carroll confirmed spit hoods could be used inside watch houses in Queensland.

‘Dangerous and archaic’

Mr Twyford said all of Australia’s children commissioners had already written an open letter calling for the practice to be banned.

“We are working with the Queensland Police Commissioner there to ensure that they are not used,” he said.

“When a young person is in a heightened state, putting a bag over their head isn’t a sensible solution.”

Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said the idea that it was acceptable to put a bag over the head of a distressed child or adult was “cruel” and “archaic.”

A woman stands in front of a yellow Indigenous artwork.
Cheryl Axelby says First Nations people are at a higher risk of being subjected to spit hoods. (Supplied)

She said the organization had called on the Queensland government and every other state and territory government to follow the lead of South Australia, where spit hoods have been outlawed.

“First Nations people are affected by discrimination at every point of the criminal justice system,” Ms Axleby said.

“This means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at a greater risk of being subjected to the use of cruel and inhumane treatment like the use of spit hoods when in police or prison custody.

“In an era where we have world-class [personal protective equipment] There is absolutely no need for these dangerous and archaic devices.”

ABC’s Four Corners showed footage of a child detainee bound to a restraint chair with their face covered by a spit hood in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale detention center in 2016.

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