The Prison Officers Association has told Sky News equipment is “no replacement for staff,” as the Government unveils a 3m investment in new technology to protect prison guards. The investment comes amid an increase in violence against prison officers and disturbances inside jails. Two million pounds will be spent on 5,600 body-worn cameras which will be made available to prison guards in England and Wales, following the successful roll-out of the cameras among 22,000 Metropolitan Police officers last October. Plans announced by the Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah also include 1m for new police-style handcuffs and restraints, which will reduce the need for staff to use physical holds to control aggressive prisoners. Four prisons – HMP Wealstun, HMP Risley, HMP Preston and HMP Hull – will also trial PAVA incapacitant spray, similar to pepper spray, to boost officer safety.
Image: Two prison officers were seriously injured last year at Wormwood Scrubs in west London
Mr Gyimah said: “Prison officers do an incredibly hard job . Assaults on prison officers are up 34% in the last year . Of course prison officers have got to be professional at all times but where these cameras could make a real difference is with prosecutions and also deterring assaults against prison officers.
“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 to do the job.” The Prison Officers Association welcomed the introduction of the new safety measures, but told Sky News the central issue remains the number of guards. In a statement, the union said: “Whilst we welcome protective measures such as PAVA spray and body worn cameras nothing can replace correct and safe staffing levels.
“The 30% cut to staff since 2010 and the increase in violence and riots during that period still has to be addressed and equipment is no replacement for staff.” The Government says 1,290 extra prison officers have been recruited, but admits that number is below its own target of 2,500. Former convict John Hirst told Sky News there needs to be a more widespread reform of the prison system.
He said: “What they need to do is improve conditions . Some of the prisons are still Victorian and they still use Victorian prison rules. “If you keep dehumanising prisoners when you put them into the system in the first place, how do you think they are going to behave?”
The Government says 10m has already been given to priority prisons to ramp up additional security measures including 24-hour patrol dogs, CCTV cameras, mobile phone detection technology and metal detectors.
If so, speak up…
The security guard who became the first person to confront the Las Vegas gunman1 has spoken out about his ordeal. Jesus Campos, who works at the Mandalay Bay2 casino, was on duty the night Stephen Paddock killed 58 people at a country music festival by shooting from his hotel room. The 25-year-old had previously sparked concern3 after vanishing ahead of planned media events, but has broken his silence in an interview with TV host Ellen DeGeneres4.
Walking on set with the aid of a walking stick, Mr Campos explained how on the night of 1 October he had been told to check on a fire escape door on the 32nd floor of the hotel that had been left open. Realising someone had put metal brackets on the door and unable to fully open it, he called an engineer. As he went to leave, Mr Campos said he heard “rapid fire” as Paddock began shooting through his hotel room door.
NRA says nothing could have stopped Las Vegas massacre
At first I took cover, I felt a burning sensation, I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood .
That s when I called it in on my radio that shots had been fired, he said. He decided not to say he was hit in order to free up radio traffic to allow security to coordinate the response. As engineer Stephen Schuck came to fix the fire escape door, Mr Campos yelled for him to take cover just as the shooting begun again .
If he didn t say that, I would have got hit, Mr Schuck told DeGeneres. Mr Campos has also been credited with saving the life of a female guest, ordering her to get back inside as she wandered out of her hotel room. DeGeneres said this would be the only time Mr Campos would speak about the ordeal.
I just wanna mention all the people that assisted that night, whether it was Metro, the FBI, the community especially coming out together to help everyone in need, Mr Campos said.