Prisons: Industrial Health and Safety

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 24 January 2020.

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Photo of Dehenna Davison Dehenna Davison Conservative, Bishop Auckland

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the riot at HMP Deerbolt on 8 January 2020, what steps he is taking to (a) ensure the safety of prison staff and (b) recognise their work in difficult environments.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Our highly-skilled staff successfully resolved an incident involving 18 prisoners on one wing at HMYOI Deerbolt on 8 January. The 18 prisoners involved in the incident were transferred to other prisons or held in Deerbolt’s segregation unit. The perpetrators have been placed on report pending adjudication hearings as well as investigation by the police.

Prison officers do an outstanding job, and we do not underestimate the challenges faced by everyone working in prisons. We are committed to making prisons a safe place to work and are providing prison officers with the right support, training and tools to empower them to do their jobs. Any prisoner who commits an act of violence can expect to have action taken against them.

We are rolling out our key worker model to improve staff-prisoner relationships and reduce violence, by providing individual support to each prisoner from a dedicated officer. We are giving staff rigid bar handcuffs and have provided nearly 6,000 body worn video cameras to officers, which provide high-quality evidence to support prosecutions.

We are also introducing PAVA – a synthetic pepper spray – to protect staff and prisoners from incidents where there is serious violence, or an imminent or perceived risk of serious violence. Alongside the rollout of PAVA we are introducing a new personal safety package, SPEAR (Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response), to ensure that PAVA is introduced as part of a wider package of skills for staff to resolve and deescalate incidents.

Finally, we are spending £2.75 billion to transform the prison estate, creating 10,000 additional modern prison places and bolstering security to allow staff to focus their efforts on rehabilitating offenders.

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