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Spray for prisons

Prison officers across the country will have incapacitant spray, Prisons Minister Rory Stewart announced.

It follows a pilot at HM Prisons Hull, Preston, Risley and Wealstun. The HM Prison and Probation Service have made the decision to roll out nationally, in a £2m spend. PAVA is a synthetic pepper spray which temporarily incapacitates those it is sprayed upon.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says PAVA can help to prevent serious harm to staff and prisoners alike, as well as being a tool to persuade prisoners in the act of violence to stop. The MoJ says that will only be deployed in limited circumstances when there is serious violence or an imminent risk of it taking place, and where its deployment will reduce the risk of serious injury. All prison officers will receive specialist training before being allowed to carry it.

Rory Stewart said: “Prison officers’ ability to keep control of prisons, and the chaotic individuals within them, is vital to ensuring everyone’s safety. Violent individuals are as much of a danger to other prisoners as they are to prison officers. Most prisoners want to keep out of trouble and see the prison authorities given the means to keep control, so that they can focus on rehabilitation. Safer prisons means dealing effectively with a dangerous minority, while allowing more offenders into education and work and reducing the likelihood of them reoffending.”

For Labour, Richard Burgon, Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Violence in our prisons has spiralled out of control following the Conservatives’ decision to axe thousands of prison officers and slash hundreds of millions of pounds from prison budgets.

“New equipment alone can’t solve this prisons crisis, especially when there are still over 3,000 fewer prison officers than when the Conservatives came to office.

“The Government needs to stop tinkering around the edges, and instead use this month’s budget to launch an emergency plan with substantial new Treasury funds to tackle the widespread understaffing and overcrowding that has made our prisons a danger to the officers, inmates and wider society.”

Separately; a Peterborough-based unit of police and prison officers will identify and freeze bank accounts linked to money laundering behind bars, Justice Secretary David Gauke said in a speech to the Conservative party conference. He said: “My message to kingpins is this: we are already blocking your phones, putting you in isolation and now we will make sure you can’t access your money. Dealing drugs in prison will no longer be profitable because we will find your assets and we will seize them.”


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