Published: 17:55, 21 September 2020
| Updated: 19:44, 21 September 2020
A new hi-tech X-ray body scanner installed at a Kent jail has already found a number of illegal items.
HMP Elmley in Eastchurch on Sheppey is one of 16 prisons across the UK to have the state-of-the-art equipment.
Designed specifically for the Prison Service, it allows staff to see instantly whether prisoners are smuggling in illegal contraband items, including drugs, weapons and phones.
The images produced are incredibly detailed and a Ministry of Justice spokesman said it "surpasses anything else currently on the market".
HMP Elmley’s scanner has already picked up significant finds of contraband in a short time since being installed, including batteries, mobile phones and drugs.
Elmley’s governor, Paul Woods, said: “The body scanner is an amazing piece of equipment that will enhance the security of HMP Elmley.
“The quality of the imagery is fantastic and in its first week of operation, the body scanner has already helped us stop the ingress of illicit items into the establishment.
“This enhanced security will help make HMP Elmley a safer environment for staff and prisoners.”
Prisons and Probation Minister, Lucy Frazer MP, said: “The new technology here at Elmley 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 scanners are part of the government’s £100 million package to tackle violence and drugs.
Other measures being taken include X-ray baggage scanners and metal-detection equipment, phone-blocking technology and a new digital forensics facility.
The cutting-edge technology is being installed at jails with high volumes of remand prisoners – posing the greatest risk of smuggling.
Evidence has shown the use of the scanners can contribute to a significant reduction in violence and drug use.