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

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

by Brian Sims

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

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