Crackdown on drugs as HMP Bedford gets X-ray scanner

A stash of illegal items already found in short time since scanner arrived

By Holly Patel
Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:13 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:16 pm

An advanced X-ray body scanner is now up and running at HMP Bedford as part of the Government’s efforts to crackdown on crime behind bars.

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

Better quality images make it easier to detect contraband.

X-ray scan on a prisoner was taken using the new technology, it shows an attempt to smuggle four mobile phones, a bag of tobacco and several sim cards

The level of detail has not been seen before in jails and surpasses anything else currently on the market.

HMP Bedford’s scanners have already resulted in three significant finds of contraband, including a USB stick which can assist unlawful communications. The illegal items would have been destined for the prison wings, fuelling the illicit economy and potential violence.

The installation comes as part of the Government’s bold £100 million package to boost security.

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: “The new technology here at Bedford 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.”

HMP Bedford’s Governor, PJ Butler, said: “I am delighted with the results, directly or indirectly, that we are having because of our new body scanner.”

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 equipment is being 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.