Safety first for staff in our prisons

We’re doing our best to ensure custodial staff stay safe on the job.

Senior Tactical Operations Adviser Rob Hoogenraad in a de-escalation stance wearing Corrections’ current safety measures.De-escalation training: If a prisoner is angry or upset, our first option is to talk them down and try and help them work through the issues. Our recruitment process selects staff with good interpersonal skills, and staff are further trained in de-escalation techniques.

Knowledge of issues: Our Prison Tension Assessment Tool means all staff are made aware of known issues and tensions before they start their shift.

On body cameras: Telling a prisoner you’re recording them can dramatically improve their behaviour. Staff in high risk environments now wear on body cameras. A 2014 trial found that wearing cameras reduced the rate of incidents by 15-20%. To date, 912 cameras have been deployed.

Stab resistant body armour: Custodial staff can sometimes be at risk of injuries because they have to intervene in prisoner on prisoner fights or defend themselves against violence, which can sometimes feature home-made weapons. Stab resistant body armour was introduced 2015.

Radio: The ability to maintain effective and clear communication with colleagues is an essential safety strategy.

Pepper spray: Sometimes all the de-escalation in the world doesn’t stop a prisoner being violent or refusing to obey a lawful order. Pepper spray has been available in prisons since 2011, but only as part of a planned response and staff had to collect it from a central place. From July 2017 we began deploying pepper spray to selected trained custodial staff to wear as they go about their duties and deploy, if needed, in a spontaneous incident. Pepper spray is a proven effective way to stop a prisoner safely and fast.

Slash proof gloves: Common contraband in prisons includes sharp items such as home-made tattoo-guns and weapons. These gloves keep staff safe from stab injuries during searches.

Physically ready and alert: Our physical readiness assessment ensures all staff are fit enough to respond quickly in an emergency and help keep their colleagues safe. Our Fatigue Project is helping to ensure staff get enough rest and enough time off shift to recover.