Frontline Corrections officers will soon be able to carry pepper spray on their bodies to increase staff and prisoner safety, says Minister of Corrections Louise Upston.
The Corrections Amendment Regulations 2017, which come into effect next month, allow trained and authorised staff to carry pepper spray on them, giving them an additional tool to respond to potentially dangerous situations. These include incidents that may occur in escort vehicles outside of prison.
Currently, pepper spray is available for officers but is held in secure storage within prisons and requires the consent of prison directors for planned events.
“It is crucial that Corrections staff are able to immediately control spontaneous and potentially dangerous situations to keep themselves and prisoners safe inside prisons and during escorts,” Ms Upston says.
“Pepper spray is a safe tactical option with a lower risk of injury compared with other means of force. It adds to the range of safety measures and tools rolled out in the past few years under the Corrections staff safety programme. Other tools implemented to keep staff safe include stab-proof vest and on-body cameras.”
Following extensive testing, Corrections has chosen the same pepper spray that police use.
Operational guidance for carrying and using pepper spray will be redeveloped by Corrections and the spray will be rolled out in stages across all prisons beginning next month.