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Prison officers in Sheppey to have pepper spray cans

By Ellis Stephenson

The Government has backed calls from an MP for prison officers to be given cans of pepper spray to help them deal with violence and disorder.

The cannisters will come at a cost of £2 million and follows a six-month trial at Hull, Preston, Risley and Wealstun jails, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) dubbed as “successful”.

The decision to roll out the weapon, also known as PAVA spray, was announced on Tuesday by the prisons minister.

Prison officers are to be given cannisters of pepper spray. Picture: Thinkstock
Prison officers are to be given cannisters of pepper spray. Picture: Thinkstock

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson has called for them to be given to staff during a House of Commons debate in May.

He claimed some prisoners attack others so they can stay in jail longer to carry on running crime gangs.

Mr Henderson, who has three prisons in his constituency, said: “It’s very good news. It’s more likely to be used as a deterrent, rather than being used a great deal.

“There’s no reason for a prisoner to threaten an officer.”

The MoJ confirmed the spray will be given to every officer who works in adult male prisons.

It is hoped it will help to prevent serious harm to staff and prisoners and be used as a tool to persuade them to stop acts of violence.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson (4675444)
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson (4675444)

Prisons minister 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.”

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show in the year ending March 2018, there were 22,374 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, an increase of 16% from the previous year and a record high.

There were also 9,003 assaults on staff, up 26%.

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