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Swaleside prison gets X-ray scanner to stop prisoners smuggling contraband

An X-ray body scanner which checks inmates for concealed mobile phones and drugs has been delivered to a Kent prison as part of a £100 million investment in prison security

The government is hoping the new technology will keep prisoners and staff at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey safe.

Swaleside prison on the Isle of Sheppey
Swaleside prison on the Isle of Sheppey

The technology has been described as a "game-changer" in the battle to stop prisoners smuggling in illicit items such as drugs, weapons or mobile phones.

Swaleside is one of 28 prisons across England and Wales to have been given the new scanner. HMP Elmley at Eastchurch received one in September last year.

The machine allows prison staff to see instantly whether prisoners have hidden items in their bodies.

Across the prison network, it has already picked up 1,376 illegal items, including from one prisoner who had hidden four mobile phones, a bag of tobacco and several sim cards.

Prisons and Probation Minister Lucy Frazer said: "The new technology is a vital part of our efforts to stem the flow of contraband into jails and allow officers to focus on rehabilitation."

A scan picking up smuggled items inside a prisoner
A scan picking up smuggled items inside a prisoner

She said: "The scanners form part of our wider aim to transform our prisons, stepping up security to cut crime and ultimately better protect the public.

"From the figures it is clear, the X-ray scanners are already having a hugely positive impact."

Swaleside’s governor, Mark Icke, said: "The technology is far superior to anything we have had before and will enable us to keep HMP Swaleside safe for staff and prisoners."

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

A further 24 scanners are due to be in place in prisons by March.

Prison governor Mark Icke
Prison governor Mark Icke

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