Pepper spray, metal detector among new safety measures

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced on Friday that it has put new safety measures into effect at its correctional facilities across the province.
Justice Minister Darin King says implementation of new safety measures at correctional facilities will enhance security for staff, inmates and community stakeholders. (CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced Friday it has implemented new safety measures at its correctional facilities across the province. 

Justice Minister Darin King spoke to reporters at a hastily-called news conference in Confederation Building. 

Correctional officers will now be armed with pepper spray at all times while at work, and a metal detector will be installed at Her Majesty's Penitentiary, in what government called a "strategic location," to close gaps in the ring of already existing detectors.

Two new vehicles have also been ordered to transport prisoners.

King said the new measures, which are effective immediately, are designed to better protect guards, sheriff's officers, inmates and the public.

The government originally intended to wait for the upcoming budget to introduce some of these measures, but had its hand forced by a recent incident at Her Majesty's Penitentiary.

King said the incident led to immediate consultations with correctional officers, which, in turn, led to the measures announced on Friday. 

"Both the premier and myself are very pleased that government is able to do this today, to show them we support what they're doing and we respect what they're doing," said King.

"A very tough environment down there, putting their life in harm's way, sometimes on a daily basis, and they need to know that we respect and support them and they need to see it. I think what we're doing today demonstrates that."

Last week, NAPE called on the province to take action now, instead of waiting to implement the measures in the spring budget.