Prisons: Crimes of Violence

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Jared O'Mara Jared O'Mara Independent, Sheffield, Hallam

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to protect and support prison staff from abuse.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Our prison staff work incredibly hard and we are under no illusions about the challenges they face. We are taking urgent action to make prisons safer, and assaults on our hardworking staff will never be tolerated. That is why we are working with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure successful prosecutions of those who assault them. It is also why the Government supported the recently passed Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which increases sentences for those who attack emergency workers, including prison officers.

We are taking further measures to protect our staff, including investing in 5,600 body-worn cameras and in rigid-bar handcuffs. Early next year we will begin to equip every prison officer in the adult male prison estate with PAVA incapacitant spray. 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. It will be deployed only in prisons that have rolled out the key worker scheme, and in which staff have been properly trained.

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