PRISON officers are to be given synthetic pepper spray in a bid to combat violence in jails.
The Pava spray has been trialled in four prisons, and will now be rolled out at all men’s jails, prisons minister Rory Stewart revealed.
The news came as Andrea Albutt, the president of the Prison Governors’ Association, yesterday told its annual conference of the ‘horrendous’ violence in jails made worse by ‘crumbling’ buildings, staff shortages and drugs.
The Ministry Of Justice said it had taken meaningful action to address the challenges prison officers face.
Mr Stewart said trials of the Pava spray had shown positive results, without it having to be used. ‘The mere fact that an officer is wearing the canister on their belt acts as a deterrent and can prevent incidents getting out of hand,’ he told The Sun.
But John Podmore, an ex-governor at high-security Belmarsh jail in London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the spray could worsen the ‘culture of conflict’ and be used against wardens.
He asked: ‘What next? Sidearms, rifles in conning towers on perimeters?’