Darroch Ball
Co-leader Sensible Sentencing Trust

Complaining about the police use of spit-hoods on teens without offering any solution to the problem is the absolute definition of mindless ‘whinging’. Although it is no surprise that the person complaining is ‘hand-wringer-in-chief’: Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft

Multiple officers have contacted me with anger and frustration at his comments comparing their use of spit-hoods with “Guantanamo Bay” – and, no surprise, the Minister of Police Poto Williams is yet again not defending our frontline.

Perhaps Becroft needs to stop sitting behind his desk complaining about near-everything police are doing to deal with violent teens. It is easy to complain from an ivory tower; perhaps he should go and try to help arrest one of the teens himself one day.

I wonder what he sees as the solution for an officer arresting a highly aggressive teenage career-criminal gang-prospect, who has a history of violence against police, and a permanent penchant for spitting in their faces. Ask them nicely to stop? Give them a hug and ask how their upbringing was?

Becroft stated that the use of spit-hoods on teenagers was “profoundly concerning” and “should be abolished”. Why? If he had a cursory glance at the statistics he would see that of the tens of thousands of interactions police had with teens between 2016-2020, on average they were used only 25 times a year – for teens who were spitting at and biting cops. 

What is “profoundly concerning”, however, is how out of touch Becroft is with what police deal with every day. The hoods are clearly used as a very last resort for dangerous and out of control behaviour by aggressive offenders. I realise Becroft’s go-to is to give these guys a hug and a hot mug of Milo, but these comments are beyond the pale.

What’s worse is the inevitable follow-up comment from a ‘justice advocate’ Julia Whaipooti, stating that, because Maori teens were overrepresented in the statistics, the police were clearly racist and targeting them. How about we stop looking for excuses and understand that the only ones who are overrepresented in being put in a spit-hood are those clowns who spit and bite.

And just by the way, that independent commenting ‘justice advocate’ Julia Whaipooti used to be a Senior Advisor at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner until July this year.

It beggars belief that we have a country that allows our men and women in blue to continually be lambasted in this way – with zero logic, common sense, or wherewithal behind the mudslinging and whingeing.

Perhaps Becroft and Whaipooti should be lambasting the parents of these teenagers first and foremost, the family environments and communities they live in, and dare I say it – the gangs they associate with. How about starting with them first? Then, next move, on to the teenagers themselves – because if they are forced to wear a spit-hood, it is likely this isn’t their first violent association with police, and it certainly isn’t any sort of behaviour that anyone should be accepting – or worse, making excuses for.

The worst part of all of this? The fact that Poto Williams, the Minister of Police, sits back and lets our frontline officers be attacked and insulted in this absurd manner and doesn’t say a word in their defence.

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Poto Williams Fails to Defend the Police
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