Prison scanners thwart 10,000 smuggling attempts

X-ray body scanners have stopped 10,000 attempts to smuggle contraband including drugs, weapons and phones into prisons in just over a year.

Oct 15, 2021
By Tony Thompson

The innovative equipment, which has been rolled out across all closed male prisons in England and Wales, is part of a wider £100 million plan to boost security in prisons and crackdown on crime behind bars.

The 74 scanners, developed specifically for the Prison Service, allow staff to instantly identify whether prisoners are smuggling illegal contraband items within their bodies. The scanners have picked up Spice, morphine tablets, mobile phones, SIM cards, phone chargers and tobacco. These illegal items would have been destined for the prison wings, fuelling the illicit economy that drives debt and associated violence.

At HMP Garth a prisoner was found to be in possession of an iPhone and charging lead during a body search. The scanner revealed a large package in his bowel, later discovered to be full of tobacco.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Drugs and weapons wreak havoc behind bars and stop frontline staff from doing their crucial work to rehabilitate offenders and cut crime.

“Our new scanners help us keep out dangerous and illegal items from prison that means our staff can create a better environment to get offenders off drugs and into work – which is the key to reducing reoffending.”

Joanne Sims, Governor of HMP High Down said: “This equipment is proving to be a successful deterrent to anyone wanting to smuggle illegal items into our establishment. The X-ray body scanner supports our aim to provide a safe environment for our prison officers and the men in our prisons.”

The technology has been installed at 73 sites meaning that all of the closed male estate have the X-ray scanners, ensuring that there are no vulnerable points.

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