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Prison guards to be armed with pepper spray and handcuffs

Prison guards are set to be armed with pepper sprays and police-style handcuffs to combat a surge in violence and rioting behind bars.

They will also be issued with body cameras to help gather evidence when inmates get out of control. The crackdown comes after demands from some officers for shackles and Guantanamo-style jumpsuits to be introduced because the level of violence in jails is so bad.

Earlier this month, guards at the top-security Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire were attacked by inmates armed with pool balls and cues.

Prison guards will be armed with pepper spray amid calls for greater security to combat violence from inmates

Under plans to be announced today, the use of pepper-style ‘PAVA’ spray will be trialled at four prisons.

It means that for the first time, regular prison officers will have the power to use such devices when confronted by armed inmates. The sprays, already in use by riot response teams, are seen as the best way for guards to subdue violent offenders while avoiding serious injury to themselves.

The four sites where they will be tested are Wealstun in West Yorkshire, Risley in Cheshire, Preston and Hull.

Police-style ‘rigid bar’ handcuffs and restraints will also be introduced at a total cost of £1 million.

The new restraints will avoid the need for guards to use physical holds to control aggressive prisoners and risk injury to both themselves and inmates, the Ministry of Justice said.

And in a £2 million move, every prison officer will now have access to body-cameras.

Guards at the top security jail Long Lartin were attacked by prisoners armed with pool balls and cues

Guards at the top security jail Long Lartin were attacked by prisoners armed with pool balls and cues

A total of 5,600 cameras are being provided across England and Wales after the devices were trialled in 22 jails. The move comes after Scotland Yard announced last year that it was issuing similar cameras to 22,000 front-line officers.

Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah vowed that the Government would do everything in its power to thwart out-of-control convicts and to boost the safety of warders.

He said: ‘I am absolutely determined to tackle head-on the issues that undermine the safety and security of our prisons and to ensure our dedicated officers have the tools they need.

‘This latest investment underlines our commitment to transform our prisons into places of safety and reform.’



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