Game-changing X-ray body scanners foil over 28,000 attempts to smuggle contraband into UK prisons

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Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab at the new Five Wells Prison. Picture by Tim Hammond / No 10 Downing Street

Game-changing X-ray body scanners have foiled more than 28,000 attempts to smuggle drugs, phones and weapons behind bars as the war on prison rule breakers picks up speed.

Over the last two years, more than 90 new advanced scanners have been installed in all closed male jails, producing high-resolution images of concealed contraband so staff can stop more dangerous items from getting in and causing havoc on prison landings.

This tough new security has captured and confiscated illegal contraband concealed on prisoners including mobile phones, vapes and improvised weapons.

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:

Our tough new security measures in prisons are putting prisoners back on the straight and narrow. Allied to our renewed drive to get prisoners off drugs for good, we are cutting crime and keeping the public safe.

This new development comes just days after the government announced plans to roll out cutting-edge baggage scanners to 45 prisons across England and Wales. These will check bags brought in by the thousands of staff and visitors who enter prisons every day – cutting off another route of smuggling. Together these measures have kept mobile phones, drugs and improvised weapons out of the hands of prisoners where they would fuel violence and disorder.

The government’s investment of up to £125 million in next-generation prison security measures has also seen the most challenging prisons kitted out with new handheld and archway metal detectors, and more than 150 specially trained drug sniffer dogs.

This investment has created a new team of specialist investigators to clamp down on the small minority of corrupt staff who have no place in the Prison Service.

And to clamp down on the pernicious smuggling of drugs via prison mail, jails have installed over 135 drug trace detection machines that can detect microscopic smears of new psychoactive substances such as ‘spice’ on letters and items of clothing.

These advances deliver on the government’s commitments outlined in the Prisons Strategy White Paper. This will also see the rollout of abstinence-based treatment for prisoners addicted to drugs or alcohol and tougher sentences for terrorist prisoners who break the rules behind bars.

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