A new generation of drugs scanners are being bought for use in prisons across England and Wales, including HMP Nottingham.
With drug smuggling into prisons becoming a growing problem, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has called for the purchase of body scanning equipment to replace manual body searches.
The decision comes after a report from the Centre for Social Justice recommended that all 118 UK prisons should be equipped with x-ray scanners to combat prison drug smuggling.
To install a scanner in every prison in England and Wales, it would cost of £15 million.
Most prisons currently carry out manual searches, which is not always effective as illegal substances are often swallowed or concealed inside body cavities. The x-ray scanners are able to detect if drugs have been concealed within the body, according to the CSJ.
“I felt low”
We spoke to a 24 year old man, who would like to remain anonymous, but recalled his experience of being strip-searched at a police station, despite being innocent. “It is the most undignified process you can imagine. I felt low. You’re stripped all the way down, asked to bend over and a stranger, someone you don’t know, uses their two fingers inside a purple glove to check for substances. As a cautionary measure…”
In response to the introduction of x-ray body scanners, he said, “It takes away that horrible process. That’s a big enough reason to go ahead with it. I don’t think anyone should have to go through that. Of the amount of people they search, I’m sure most of them don’t have anything on them.”
1 in 3 prisoners say it is “easy” to get hold of drugs
Not only are drugs smuggled by visitors, prisoners and corrupt staff, drugs can be posted or thrown over prison walls. This has led to just under one in three (31 per cent) prisoners saying it is “easy” to get hold of drugs.
In response to scepticism as to whether the scanners are completely safe, the CSJ has put forward evidence to suggest that the radiation dosage is so low that the equipment is safe to use on prisoners 1,000 times per year.