X-ray scanners stop more than 1,300 illegal items entering prisons

Advanced X-ray body scanners have stopped more than 1,300 illegal items of contraband, including drugs, weapons and phones, being smuggled into prisons, just four months after being installed.

Jan 26, 2021
By Paul Jacques

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says the 1,376 illegal items detected so far would have been destined for the prison wings, “fuelling the illicit economy and potential violence”.

The cutting-edge technology is being installed at jails with high numbers of remand prisoners – who pose the greatest risk of smuggling.

The 28 scanners currently in use across the prison estate have been developed specifically for the Prison Service. They allow staff to see instantly whether prisoners are smuggling in illegal contraband items internally, and have picked up Spice, morphine tablets, mobile phones, SIM cards, phone chargers and tobacco.

Prisons and Probation Minister Lucy Frazer said: “Stopping the flow of illegal items into jails is a huge priority for us.

“The scanners form part of our wider plan to step up security in prisons to cut crime and better protect the public.”

The MoJ says the “game-changing X-ray technology” is being rolled out across England and Wales as part of the Government’s £100 million package to boost security in prisons and crack down on crime behind bars.

HMP Hindley Governor Natalie McKee said: “We are confident this equipment will prove 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.”

A further 24 scanners are due to be installed in prisons by this March.

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