New X-ray scanners to stop illegal items entering Serco prisons

  • Game-changing X-ray technology finds banned items within hours of being installed
  • 51 prisons across England and Wales now have the new equipment to bolster defences against drugs, weapons and mobile phones
  • Part of the Government’s £100 million package to tackle violence and boost security

An advanced X-ray body scanner is preventing illegal items such as drugs and mobile phones, entering Serco prisons within just weeks of being installed.

The innovative equipment being rolled out across England and Wales is part of the Government’s bold £100 million package to boost security in prisons and crack down on crime behind bars.

The technology, developed specifically for the Prison Service, allows staff to see instantly whether prisoners are attempting to smuggle in illegal contraband.

The illegal items detected would have been destined for the prison wings, fuelling the illicit economy and potential violence.

An additional 22 prisons have had the game-changing equipment installed in the last six months, meaning 51 prisons across England and Wales now have the technology, which has collectively already stopped more than 3,500 illegal items from getting into the hands of prisoners.

Prisons Minister, Alex Chalk MP, said:

“The new technology is having a hugely positive impact, stemming the flow of contraband into jails and allowing staff to focus on rehabilitation.

“The scanners form part of our wider aim to transform prisons, stepping up security to cut crime and ultimately better protecting the public.”

David Bamford OBE, Serco Prison Director at HMP Thameside, said:

“The introduction of this new technology is having a very positive impact on our ability to intercept illegal contraband.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach to people attempting to smuggle things like phones and drugs into the prison and we work closely with the police to prosecute anyone we find doing so.”

The cutting-edge technology is being installed at prisons identified as most at risk of smuggling.

The equipment was funded by the Government’s £2.75 billion commitment to transform the prison estate. This includes:

  • £100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence, self-harm and crime behind bars
  • £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
  • £156 million to tackle the most pressing maintenance issues to create safe and decent conditions for offender rehabilitation