5 Jun 2012

Union meets Corrections over safety issues

9:20 pm on 5 June 2012

The union representing prison officers says jails are becoming more violent and it will continue to push for guards to be armed with pepper spray and tasers.

Department of Corrections officials met with union representatives on Tuesday to discuss safety concerns following an attack on a guard at Rimutaka Prison in Upper Hutt on Friday.

The guard is in a stable condition hospital with serious head injuries after intervening in an attack on a prisoner by other inmates.

Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon says the department has agreed to look at international best practice for using pepper spray in jails.

He says the parties do not yet agree on how pepper spray should be used, but do concur that officer safety comes first.

In 2010, Jason Palmer died at Springhill Prison in North Waikato after being attacked by a prisoner.

Mr Hanlon says the death of another prison officer is inevitable if guards are not armed with pepper spray and tasers.

He says prison officers have no protection other than their uniform and a radio, and without pepper spray or tasers, it is just a matter of time before another fatal attack occurs.