During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 3 August 2022, I asked about the use of spit hoods in Queensland police watch houses.
You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).
Mr BERKMAN: I would like to put my first question to Commissioner Carroll, and it is around the use of spit hoods in Queensland watch houses. These have been described by the UN as torture devices and Queensland remains the only jurisdiction apart from the Northern Territory that still allows their use. How many times have spit hoods been used in Queensland police watch houses each year since 2019, including on children under the age of 18 years, and for what durations?
Commissioner Carroll: I will get that answer to you by the end of the session. They have not been used much—in fact, not at all in the last six or seven months. We are working closely with the children’s commissioner to look at other options. Certainly, they have not been used and we are working very closely with the children’s commissioner to make sure that in the future we have other options rather than that.
Mr BERKMAN: That relates very closely to the following question I was going to ask. Noting that spit hoods cannot be used in youth detention facilities but they are used in watch houses where children are sometimes detained, are there any rules or processes in place to ensure that young children— children as young as 10—are not subjected to the use of these devices when they are being held in watch houses?
Commissioner Carroll: Interestingly, it is only in watch houses, not even outside of a watch house. I cannot speak to the past policy, but I am well aware that we are one of the rare ones that still has that in place. We are looking at very closely working with the children’s commissioner to stop that use in the future. It is just looking at how else we deal with those instances in our use of force options. That is happening into the future.
Mr BERKMAN: I have a very brief follow-up question to the minister. Minister, given what we have just heard from the commissioner, what steps is the government taking to ban the use of spit hoods and restraint chairs, as other jurisdictions around Australia have done?
Mr RYAN: The commissioner has been very clear around the police operational use of that. The advice that I have got is that they are rarely used and in recent times have not been used. Obviously, we need to get the policy mix right to work with the operational requirements of the Queensland Police Service. 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.
Mr BERKMAN: So there is no intention on the government’s part to ban the use of spit hoods and restraint chairs.
Mr RYAN: No, I do not think you heard me there.
Mr BERKMAN: I am sorry. My apologies, I am just seeking clarification.
Mr RYAN: I said the government would be working with the Police Service to ensure there were use of force options other than spit hoods.
Mr BERKMAN: Thanks, Minister. I will ask another question if the Chair will indulge me?
CHAIR: No, I won’t indulge you.
[LATER IN THE HEARING]
Mr RYAN: I have some information.
CHAIR: Yes. I understand that there was one matter outstanding?
Mr RYAN: The information I have is for the member for Maiwar in respect of safety hoods being used on young people. Since 2015—seven years—there were 20 youths. There have been none in the last seven months. That is obviously a position that the commissioner has made very clear. I am not trying to put things into context, but over the same period of time there have been 353,000 people in custody. It is a very small instance but, nonetheless, it was 20 times in the last seven years in respect of a young offender.
[LATER, AFTER BEING CUT OFF BY THE CHAIR]
Mr RYAN: Can I just also finalise the information from the last session around the use of safety hoods since 2019 on youths. It has been eight since 2019.