1. ITV Report

Hi-tech scanners to be installed in prisons to stop smuggling

The x-rays will pick up anything hidden internally in prisoners. Credit: Prison service

X-ray scanners are due to be installed in 16 of the country's 'most challenging' jails including Bedford, Norwich and Chelmsford.

The "cutting edge" scanners, specially developed for the Prison Service, can produce "instant images from inside the human body" and reveal internally concealed contraband like drugs, phones and weapons, in a level of detail not previously available, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Prisons with high volumes of remand prisoners, which the MoJ said pose the "greatest risk of smuggling", are being prioritised. Birmingham, Liverpool and Winchester will be the first to get the devices.

Other prisons to receive scanners in the latest phase of the roll-out include:

  • Exeter
  • Durham
  • Preston
  • Hewell
  • Lincoln
  • Elmley
  • Pentonville
  • Wandsworth
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff

Installation will begin in the spring with all scanners anticipated to be in place by the summer.

It follows the successful use of older models of similar scanners in the 10 Prisons Project to crack down on violence and drug use in Hull, Humber, Isis, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, and Wormwood Scrubs prisons.


Steve Robson, the governor of HMP Leeds, said the addition of a scanner had been a "real game changer", adding: "In the year it has been in operation, it has found over 300 items of contraband, with prisoners finding drugs harder to come by at Leeds."

Aidan Shilson-Thomas, from the think tank Reform, said the plan will "get the ball rolling on stabilising the system" but said the MoJ "must ensure that the prisons have the resources to staff these new measures", adding: "The next step must be to help prisoners struggling with addiction, which in turn will reduce prison violence and re-offending."

The sixteen machines are costing £28 million. Credit: Prison service

"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."

– Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer