Corrections staff are authorised to carry pepper spray in prison and in public when escorting people in our care.
This is to safeguard themselves, the public and other people in our care.
Staff issued with spray must also wear on body cameras to record incidents where pepper spray is presented or used. It’s been shown to de-escalate incidents and prevent injuries, assaults and violence.
All staff who carry pepper spray have received training in:
- Pepper spray
- On Body Camera
- First Aid
- Control and Restraint
If pepper spray is used in a public place staff will first ensure the prisoner is safely restrained then tend to members of the public who may have been affected. If you have any health concerns, please talk to a health professional, or call the Ministry of Health’s Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from a registered nurse.
If you were nearby when a corrections officer used pepper spray you may have been filmed by the on body camera. You can ask us for access to see the footage. You can read more information on the on body camera page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do Corrections staff carry pepper spray?
Pepper spray can be the least harmful way of responding to threats or violence, by temporarily incapacitating a prisoner, making it easier and safer to restrain and remove them.
Once compliant, the prisoner is removed, decontaminated and assessed by health staff for any unexpected reaction. Pepper spray is also an effective deterrent and many times the warning that it might be used is enough to make a prisoner stop threatening or violence behaviour.
When are Corrections staff allowed to use it?
Corrections officers are only allowed to be issued with pepper spray if they are fully trained and issued with on body camera equipment. They use their professional judgement to determine whether presentation or use of pepper spray is necessary to safeguard themselves or others.
Who are they allowed to use it on?
Corrections officers are trained to use pepper spray under strict protocols and will only use pepper spray if an incident with a prisoner puts safety of others at risk.
What happens after staff use pepper spray?
Safe restraint of the prisoner, tending to members of public affected, handing out cards, supporting decontamination.
What do I do if I was pepper sprayed?
If you were nearby when Corrections staff used pepper spray you may feel its effects however the risk of this is very low. Our staff will give you a card advising you about seeking health advice and your privacy if you were filmed by an on body camera.