X-ray body scanner tackling prison contraband at HMP Durham

AN advanced body scanner – described as game-changing X-ray technology that can find contraband from cigarettes to cocaine– is now up and running at HMP Durham.

The innovative new kit, developed specifically for the Prison Service, allows staff to see instantly whether prisoners are smuggling in illegal items, including drugs, weapons and phones.

Better quality images make it easier to detect contraband and the level of detail these new scanners show has not been seen before in jails.

HMP Durham Governor, Philip Husband, said: “The scanner has significantly reduced the flow of items into the jail.

“It has certainly been a game changer and has given staff a real sense of confidence to challenge those who are in possession of illicit items.”

The installation comes as part of a £100million Government package to improve security and crackdown on crime behind bars.

It says it is clamping down on weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and self-harm.

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

Prisons and Probation Minister, Lucy Frazer QC MP said: “This new technology at Durham is a vital part of our efforts to stem the flow of contraband into jails and allow officers to focus on rehabilitation.

“The scanners form part of our wider efforts to transform our prisons, creating 10,000 additional modern places and stepping up security to cut crime and ultimately better protect the public.”

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

Evidence has shown that the use of the scanners is successful in detecting contraband and can contribute to a significant reduction in violence and drug use.

The Ministry of Justice says the £100 million to bolster prison security is part of a wider £2.75 billion commitment to transform the prison estate.

This also includes £2.5 billion to provide 10,000 additional prison places and create modern, efficient jails that rehabilitate offenders, reduce reoffending and keep the public safe and £156 million to tackle the most pressing maintenance issues to create safe and decent conditions for offender rehabilitation.

The Northern Echo | Durham