Prison officers to be armed with synthetic pepper spray | ITV News

Prison officers are to be given canisters of synthetic pepper spray in a bid to combat violence in jails, Prisons Minister Rory Stewart has said.

The incapacitant PAVA spray has been trialled in four prisons, and will now be rolled out at all jails which house male prisoners, he said.

The news comes ahead of a speech by Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors Association (PGA), in which she is expected to accuse the Government of failing to respond quickly enough to the jail safety crisis.

Mr Stewart said trials of the PAVA spray had already shown positive results, without the officer needing to use the spray.

“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 said.

He added the decision to arm prison officers with the spray had come following “serious thought”, but safer prisons “are vital for all of us”.

He said: “Our prison officers are doing one of the most important and heroic jobs in our society. We must give them the means to do their job.”

The prisons system has been under intense scrutiny after levels of violence, self-harm and drug use behind bars surged.

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