The Policing Authority has said it was worried that new anti-spit hoods issued to gardaí could be used on children aged over 12.

Garda Headquarters has ordered 16,000 such hoods, which cover the entire face of the detainee and stops them spitting at, coughing on or biting officers.

However, in a report to the Minister for Justice on how gardaí are policing the current crisis, the authority said it was concerned about their use and views their introduction "with some considerable reluctance".

Chairman Bob Collins said the authority was worried that garda procedure states only that the hoods are not to be used on children under 12 and is "silent" on their use on children aged 12-18.

Mr Collins said he had requested clarification from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and wants the use of spit hoods to be recognised as a "use of force", which requires a process of open reporting.

He also said he was "somewhat reassured" by the commissioner's "clear indications" that the use and availability of anti-spit hoods will be strictly limited to the current crisis.

The authority said it was also concerned that garda recruits who have not yet completed their training were being deployed in the current crisis.

It said the commissioner does not envisage they will use their garda powers and understand his reasons for their deployment.

The report said Commissioner Harris has confirmed that the force has sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and assured the authority that the issue of priority testing for gardaí would be resolved.

The authority said it was satisfied that An Garda Síochána fully understands the temporary and exceptional nature of the new powers it has been given during the Covid-19 emergency and the importance that any use of the new powers is appropriately and fully recorded.

The Policing Authority report was submitted to Minister Charlie Flanagan following his request that it report on an interim basis on its assessment of the policing performance of An Garda Síochána during the Covid-19 crisis.