Sunday 23 October 2016

Protection plans are 'a farce' say prison officers

Proposals to tackle violent inmates and drug use in jails have been branded a farce by prison officers.

In the wake of the escape last February of inmate Derek Brockwell, who stabbed two prison officers as he fled Tallaght Hospital, certain measures were proposed by a committee who investigated the incident.

One of its recommendations was the provision of safety equipment such as anti-stab vests and pepper spray for officers escorting high-risk prisoners.

But this has been branded "naive in the extreme" by officers at the coal-face.


"How do you determine who is high-risk and who is not?" one prison officer has asked.

"All a prisoner has to do is be quiet and complacent for a few weeks when they are being escorted and when everyone thinks they are low-risk that is when they will kick-off and assault an officer.

"Look at Brockwell. There were officers queuing-up to escort him because he was never any hassle, but he could see the bigger picture and play the long game, gathering intelligence, plotting and scheming, and then deliberately stabbing two officers so he could escape.

"Brockwell was only biding his time," he added.

The officer said the only solution was to give every officer protective equipment as part of their uniform. He said there are six anti-stab vests in the Midlands prison, three of which were assigned to the Prison Service Escort Corps (PSEC) staff who carry out regular escorting of prisoners to courts and medical appointments.

"There are 15 PSEC's in the Midlands Prison and only three of them have anti-stab vests, and they are all the one size even though the lads are all shapes and sizes - it's a joke," the officer said.

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