Excl: Ministry of Justice lied re prison pepper-spray roll-out – why?

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A distressed man is treated for the effects of pepper spray used in crowd control

Two weeks ago, a prisons insider tipped off the SKWAWKBOX that a controversial decision had been taken by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to roll out the use of pepper spray to all prisons – and that there was concern among prison officers that the decision to do so had been made by, among others, a head of the prison service who was being fired because of a failure to control escalating violence and suicides among prisoners.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted the MoJ to ask why the decision was being taken and whether the concerns of prison officers were being heard – initially by phone and then followed up by email:

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Rather than providing any answers or a rationale for the decision, the MoJ called back to say that no such decision had been taken. The use of pepper spray was being trialled at a number of prisons, but no decision to roll it out universally had been made.

As of a couple of hours ago, the mainstream media have begun to report that all prison officers will carry pepper spray.

Pepper spray is supposedly non-lethal, but the American Civil Liberties Union found one fatality for every 600 times the spray was used by law-enforcement over a two-year period.

The decision to equip all prison officers with pepper spray comes with serious risks that should raise serious objections – but what was the MoJ so afraid or so eager to hide that it was prepared to lie outright just in order to keep the decision hidden for two more weeks?

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  1. Because it speaks to an admission of failure, that the failure may be linked to privatisation and the tacit agreement to make life easier for the privateer, more dangerous to the inmate and all because the private company cannot run a prison to the higher standards re:control of prison that public hands has produced for how many years?

  2. Every now and then ministers make reckless promises to change prison regimes for the better – more work, less time locked in cells, renewed dedication to rehabilitation, therapy and so on.
    Nothing ever comes of it and the endless cycle continues unchanged.
    Rory Stewart means well I think but without funding his options are strictly limited.

  3. On the day prison governors say austerity is ceating problems in prison, the govt reveal their answer is to escalate violence. Unacceptable Tory solutions to Tory created problems!

  4. Whether its education spending, protecting NHS, prisons or our dishonest foreign policy; we must stop believing Tory lies!!!

      1. should have said ‘we should stop believing corporate media lies’; that’s why so many swallow Tory lies hook line & sinker!

    1. We must continually expose them at every opportunity in everyday life talking with others – people are so unaware of what is going on (for whatever reason).

  5. Sorry… Have to say this… The Tories are inhumanely evil.

    It’s not too long ago the Tories cut ‘red tape’ so that people could buy dangerous acid more easily. Look what happened – a huge increase in acid attacks.

    There is also Grenfell.

    To quote a famous comedian – ‘Conservatives have been born with some fundamental piece of their soul missing’.

    1. Ella re ” Sorry… Have to say this… The Tories are inhumanely evil.”
      Yes – incomprehensible . BUT this has just been emailed to me:
      “The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is a Special Health Authority and an Arm’s Length Body of the Dept of Health & Social Care – its prescription fine collection service is just getting going collecting prescription charges and “NHS Penalty charges”.
      You might not think there is much wrong with charging people £60 or “up to £100” for wrongly claiming to be entitled to free prescriptions, until you realise that people on Universal Credit won’t know whether they are entitled to free prescriptions. ….. when they are stood in a chemists feeling like death and finding that there isn’t a box for “Universal Credit” on the back of the prescription form, only boxes for the legacy benefits they have been forced off. …..….. Once a Penalty Charge Notice has been issued, if no payment has been made within 28 days a surcharge of £50 will be added to the fine (over & above a possible £100).”
      NB Once a year, people on 4 weekly pay get 2 payments (28 days apart) in the same calendar month. This will remove their entitlement during that month.” !!!

      1. Martin

        Thanks for the heads up. The tight bastards already fine you for similar offences re: dental appointments. That’s dentists for you. Now they’re closing the prescriptions loophole which has been open since prescription charges were introduced. What happens if you work part-time and you’re on the same income as if you were on the dole? Which box do you tick then?

        One for us all to remember when next presented with that ages-old form in the chemist’s and its irrelevantly-titled boxes!

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