Government targets 16 “challenging” jails for new X-ray systems

Innovative new X-ray body scanners, developed specifically for the Prison Service, will produce instant images from inside the human body and can reveal internally concealed contraband, including drugs, mobile phones and weapons. The cutting-edge technology will be installed first at 16 local jails with high volumes of remand prisoners posing the greatest risk of smuggling. The total of £28 million that will pay for these new X-ray scanners across the prison estate is being funded from the Government’s bold £100 million package designed to boost security.

The investment will fund new measures, including X-ray baggage scanners and metal detection equipment, phone-blocking technology and a new digital forensics facility, to tackle drugs and violence in prisons.

Prisons and Probation Minister Lucy Frazer QC MP said: “New technology is a vital part of our efforts to stop those determined to wreak havoc in our jails. These scanners will help to stem the flow of contraband into jails and allow officers to focus on rehabilitation. We’re investing £2.75 billion to transform our prisons, creating 10,000 additional modern places, and stepping up security to cut crime and better protect the public.”

Steve Robson, Governor at HMP Leeds which already has one of the new X-ray scanners installed, said: “The scanner has been a real game-changer. In the year since it has been in operation, the scanner has found over 300 items of contraband, with prisoners finding drugs harder to come by at Leeds.”

The first wave of jails has been prioritised after careful consideration and this will boost security where remand prisoners are received from courts. The use of X-ray body scanners at ten other challenging prisons – as part of the ’10 Prisons Project’ – was successful in detecting contraband and contributed to a significant reduction in violence and drug use.

Breakdown of the funding

The installation at the 16 prisons will begin this Spring, with all scanners expected to be in place by the Summer. The technology is set to be introduced in other prisons across the estate later this year.

The images produced by the scanner provide a level of detail inside the body that has not been seen before in the Prison Service.

As stated, the equipment is being funded by the government’s £2.75 billion commitment to transform the prison estate. This includes:

*£100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence, self-harm and crime behind bars

*£2.5 billion to provide 10,000 additional prison places and create modern, efficient jails that rehabilitate offenders, reduce re-offending and keep the public safe

*£156 million to tackle the most pressing maintenance issues to create safe and decent conditions for offender rehabilitation

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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