09/11/2017 13:19 GMT | Updated 09/11/2017 23:42 GMT

Police Force Uses Twitter Poll To Canvass Public Opinion On Use Of Spit Hoods

A police force is using social media to gauge public reaction to the controversial use of spit hoods.

In what is thought to be a first for Durham Police, it is carrying out a Twitter poll on whether it should start using the guards which are used to protect officers.

The tweet says: “We would like your views on ‘Spit Hoods’ and the potential for these to be used within force.

“A ‘Spit Hood’ is a restraint device intended to prevent an arrested individual from spitting or biting. Do you agree or disagree?”

With two hours on the poll left, 93% of the 1,200-plus voters were in favour.

An investigation last year found a third of forces used the mesh hoods.

Critics say they are distressing and humiliating for suspects and can cause panic. They say the masks make more it difficult for officers to tell if someone is struggling to breathe.

An inspector made the suggestion of using a Twitter poll and Durham Police agreed to try it.

A spokesman said: “We value views and feedback – both positive and negative – as this helps us to identify the things we do well and also those areas where we need to improve.

“We have a huge social media following and so it seems fitting that we ask for public opinion in this way. A poll provides measurable results which can help to shape decisions.

“We are committed to delivering excellent policing to inspire confidence in victims and our communities by protecting neighbourhoods, tackling criminals and solving problems around the clock.

“This is shown in the force’s ‘outstanding’ grading across all areas of efficiency for the third year running which has been announced today.”