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Prisons: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bradley Lord Bradley Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what medical advice they have received on the impact of (1) the use of PAVA spray in prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) the use of PAVA spray on a prisoner with COVID-19 symptoms.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

PAVA mainly effects the eyes, but it also effects the respiratory system. The PAVA policy states that staff must take the health of a prisoner into consideration before deploying PAVA. The policy state that it must not be used on a prisoner in respiratory distress or showing other signs of immediate symptoms of acute ill health which are likely to be significantly exacerbated by PAVA deployment. This would include any prisoner that is suspected of having COVID19.

Staff are also reminded that PAVA will only be used when exceptional circumstances apply and in accordance with training. The legitimate use of PAVA will only be considered reasonable as a means of defence when:

  1. It is necessary for an officer to defend themselves or a third party from an attack, or an impending attack, where they perceive a threat of immediate serious harm; and
  2. There is no other reasonable option open to the member of staff to protect themselves or another person and reduce the risk of immediate serious harm but to employ this defensive technique.

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