Pepper spray calls after prison attack
Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:08p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
There are renewed calls for the Government to let prison officers carry pepper spray, after another attack on a guard over the weekend.
The Department of Corrections' pepper spray trial found its presence defused violent situations and it appears to be working in Australia.
Auckland Prison is home to some of New Zealand’s most violent criminals. Locked in its maximum-security section are the likes of Graham Burton and George Baker.
Last weekend another inmate allegedly attacked a prison guard. Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon says it was a “cowardly attack”.
“A prisoner coming up behind a corrections officer and king-hitting him from behind, knocking some teeth out and loosening several others.”
But this is not the only instance of prison guards being attacked. Two weeks ago a female prison guard was knocked out by two female inmates at Arohata Women's Prison. The week before that a Christchurch guard suffered a ruptured ear drum, and in the months before that five Hawke’s Bay guards were assaulted.
The Government is giving prison staff access to pepper spray but it won’t let them carry it with them, despite a trial which found in two of the three incidents where it was approved but not deployed the prisoner became compliant as a result of the presence of pepper spray.
The report says most staff involved in the trial were concerned carrying spray might encourage prisoners to use it against them, but the prison union's 2500 members are for it.
Across the ditch, four out of seven Australian states have guards armed with spray. New South Wales Prison Union spokesman Matt Bindley says it works.
“Staff feel safer and inmates actually feel safer too because they know they're protected as well.
“It's no good when the gas is locked up and an officer or an inmate is being beaten up.”
But our Government wants other options exhausted first, like training staff to talk inmates down.
“Making sure they do have skills that are necessary before we start arming them up,” Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says.
Meanwhile the case of the Auckland inmate accused of assault has been referred to police.
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9/11/2012 10:45:11 a.m.
Prison gourds are trained in tactical communication but if you have a prisoner who is committed to harm you it is no good! As for officers being in shape prisoners have all day to train in a gum for free with free meals while officers are over worked with a minimum staff. You can never mach it! Having chemical agents will defiantly help those brave officers. Having a chance to work in NZ's and OZ prison system, I would say our Officers in New Zealand certainly need more defensive gear. So they can go home safe at the end of day.
27/10/2012 7:15:37 p.m.
@ Katrina. it's not the size of the officer, it's when the gutless prisoner who will attack in packs and attack from behind.
26/10/2012 11:15:33 p.m.
Have prison guards that are in shape, muscley and trained in martial arts so they can defend themselves and actually appear to be a threat.
26/10/2012 8:03:16 p.m.
Would have thought pepper spray and stun guns were the very minimum prison guards had to protect themselves.
26/10/2012 7:10:46 p.m.
Tolleys off her Trolly. Imagine trying to 'talk down' Graham Burton. Whats he going to tell you.. He's got nothing to lose, so why is he going to care what the guard wants. Get a grip woman, many of these people are in gaol for voilence and a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket aint gonna stop squat. Give the guards what they need to control these thugs and stop with the PC bullshit.
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