Tyne & Wear

HM Prison Frankland officers demand stab vests

Guards at a County Durham prison have demanded to be given stab-proof vests and pepper spray to protect themselves from inmates.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) wants guards at HM Prison Frankland to be issued with protective gear for routine duties.

A HM Prison Service spokeswoman said knife-proof vests could increase the likelihood of attacks.

They said the equipment was only issued where appropriate.

'Frequent assaults'

Tom Robson, vice chairman of the POA, said staff at the maximum security jail currently undertook day-to-day duties with only a baton for protection.

"It's one of the highest security prisons and holds the worst type of prisoners," he said.

"There are frequent assaults on prison officers, some serious, some less serious.

"There are also prisoner-to-prisoner assaults and staff are injured intervening.

'Kept under review'

"Our best weapon will always be our ability to talk to people but we'd like to have as much protection as possible."

A HM Prison Service spokeswoman said current safety measures were adequate.

She said: "We take the responsibility of keeping staff, prisoners and visitors safe extremely seriously.

"That's why we have a violence management system in place to deal with incidents quickly and robustly, with serious incidents referred to the police immediately.

"Stab vests are issued to prison staff where appropriate.

"The decision not to issue them to all staff is kept under review as part of our commitment to reduce violence in prisons."

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