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:
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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