TASERS and spit hoods were deployed by officers across Thames Valley more than most other regions to deal with incidents involving children, it has emerged.

Only three policing areas needed to use Tasers more in 2018, with Thames Valley Police recording the fourth-highest use for spit hoods in the first nine months of last year.

The force started using spot hoods in February 2017, after after more than 300 officers were spat at the previous year.

Taser training has also been rolled, following concerns over the number of frontline officers being assaulted in the execution of duty.

However, Louise King, director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), said both measures should be prohibited to protect children.

She added: “It is alarming to see continued high use of Tasers and spit hoods against children by police forces up and down the country, including in the Thames Valley area.

"Both Tasers and spit hoods can cause serious psychological suffering, as well as physical harm and even fatalities. Children have also told us how frightening and traumatising the threat of their use can be.

"The use of Tasers and spit-hoods against children should be prohibited. As an immediate first step, police regulations, training and guidance must be revised to ensure this equipment is only ever used as an absolute last resort when all other options have been exhausted.”

A spit-hood is a bag made of mesh-like material, with a drawstring to tighten it, which is put over the head.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct are investigating the deaths of several adults following the use of spit hoods.

A report produced by CRAE, part of Just for Kids Law, is calling for national and local government to protect children, particularly those from disadvantaged or vulnerable backgrounds.

Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O'Leary said it was 'imperative' to protect police after it was revealed more than 900 officers were assaulted in February last year.

He said: “An assault on a police officer is an assault on society and should never be viewed as just part of the job.

“Tasers are such an important piece of equipment for police officers these days. Especially now that police officers are being spread even more thinly over police areas.”