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Prison officers say 3m investment in security ‘no replacement for staff’

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.

Gang admits robbing security van and trying to rip cashpoints out of shops

A gang have admitted robbing a security van and trying to steal cashpoint machines from two Coop stores in Devon. The group targeted free standing ATM machines which are often placed close to the doors and windows of larger Coop shops. They broke into the stores at Dartmouth and Paignton and tried to use Land Rovers or vans to drag the machines out of the building.

The men were caught on CCTV as their attempts ended in failure and they were forced to flee without the ATMs or the cash they contained in the raids at Dartmouth and Cherry Brook, Paignton. A pair of brothers from Liverpool, who took part in the raids, went on to hold up a security van in Brixham in May last year and snatch 14,000.

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The six men all admitted playing some part in the series of raids, which sparked a major police operation last year. Jonny Vaughan, aged 21, of Lyme Grove, Liverpool; Robin Vaughan Junior, aged 27, of Huyton and Peter Atkinson, aged 18, of Scotchbarn Lane, Prescot, Merseyside all admitted conspiracy to rob a G4S security guard of 14,000 in Brixham in May 2016.

James Brewer, aged 35, of Brookwood Street, Liverpool, Ian Harris, aged 36, of Hele Road, Torquay; Frederick Pearce, aged 53, of Quinbrookes, Slough; Robin and Jonny Vaughan, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle. Judge Erik Salomonsen adjourned sentence at Exeter Crown Court until Friday of next week and released Harris and Pearce on bail. Lee Bremridge, for Harris, said his only involvement was helping to supply a VW Golf, a Land Rover, and a white van which were used in the Cherry Brook burglary.

Emily Pitts, for Pearce, said her client is currently working with addiction specialists to address a past problem with heroin and may be suitable for a drug rehabilitation order.

Tarquin McCalla, for Robin Vaughan Junior, said his client had only been involved in the robbery as a driver and had not agreed to the use of weapons or unnecessary violence.

Here’s the latest security bug your computer could be exposed by

A newly discovered firmware vulnerability could leave countless Windows and Mac computers at risk from a hack, according to security researchers from Duo Labs1 . The vulnerability could be used by malware to gain deep access to systems. The bug involves the extensible firmware interface, or EFI, which is the first bit of code that runs when you hit the power button – part of its responsibilities include validating the software that’s running on the machine. Based on tests on 74,000 Apple Macs, the Duo Labs team found that the EFI firmware was not always being updated at the same time as the operating system, leaving a security hole that could potentially be exploited . The vulnerability could also affect Windows PCs, the researchers say2.

Risk assessment

The good news is that a hack taking advantage of the EFI vulnerability would need to be quite a complex one, and it’s only really worth the trouble if you’ve got some pretty important data locked away on your machine. What’s more, Duo Labs says it hasn’t spotted anyone actively making use of this security loophole yet – it’s working with Apple and other computer makers to get the bug patched. “For most people in most situations, the risk is currently not severe,” the researchers say. If you’re on a Mac machine, updating to the latest version of the software (macOS High Sierra) is enough to squash the vulnerability .

For more details about how the security vulnerability works and how to guard against an attack, see the Duo Labs blog3.

References

  1. ^ from Duo Labs (duo.com)
  2. ^ the researchers say (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ see the Duo Labs blog (duo.com)