A piece in today’s Times. Clearly female prisoners don’t have any orifices in which they might hide small objects.
Every men’s prison will have x-ray body scanners by the end of the year to crack down on drugs, weapons and phones.
Trials have detected thousands of prohibited items that would not otherwise have been found. A device at Wandsworth prison in southwest London revealed four mini mobile phones in an inmate’s bowel.
Made of plastic, the phones are the size of a lipstick case and custom-made to be hidden inside the body to avoid detection by normal prison scanners.
However, the bespoke new machines generate instant high-definition images to expose objects as small as a Sim card or tiny pot of drugs. They have been trialled on prisoners found to have contraband during a normal search.
A scanner at HMP Garth, Lancashire, revealed a package of tobacco in the bowel of an inmate from whom an iPhone had been confiscated.
The scanners will not be used on visitors due to safety concerns over the use of radiation. The Ministry of Justice said visitors were less likely to conceal objects in their bodies because there was no time to recover them.
In the past seven months, 51 prisons have used the scanners and detected 4,000 prohibited items that would not otherwise have been found, including morphine, cannabis, the drug “spice” and weapons. They had already been used in 17 of the most secure prisons.
The Ministry of Justice has secured funding to roll them out to the remaining 24 male prisons in England and Wales as part of a £100 million investment in their security. The machines will be used to scan prisoners as they move in and out of jails.
Alex Chalk, the prisons minister, said: “The new technology is having a hugely positive impact, stemming the flow of contraband into jails and allowing staff to focus on rehabilitation.”
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