UK prison security scanners foil 28,000 attempts to smuggle contraband behind bars

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New high-tech scanners deployed in Britain’s prisons captured a record level of contraband, foiling over 28,000 attempts to smuggle drugs, mobile phones, and weapons behind bars since July 2020, the government said in a statement on Sunday.

These measures are part of a £125 million ($152.8 million) strategy aimed at clamping down on prison rule breakers and reducing crime within the United Kingdom’s prison system. The advanced X-ray scanners, which produce high-resolution images of concealed contraband, have been installed in all closed male jails over the last two years.

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“Our tough new security measures in prisons are putting prisoners back on the straight and narrow. Allied to our renewed drive to get prisoners off drugs for good, we are cutting crime and keeping the public safe,” the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on Sunday.

“This new development comes just days after the government announced plans to roll out cutting-edge baggage scanners to 45 prisons across England and Wales. These will check bags brought in by the thousands of staff and visitors who enter prisons every day – cutting off another route of smuggling.”

“Together these measures have kept mobile phones, drugs and improvised weapons out of the hands of prisoners where they would fuel violence and disorder,” he added.

According to the government, this new security measure has been successful in capturing and confiscating a wide range of illegal contraband, including mobile phones, vapes, and improvised weapons. The scanners have been instrumental in preventing dangerous items from entering the prison and causing havoc on the prison landings.

The deployment of these scanners is just one part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve prison security and reduce crime in the prison system to make it safer for staff and inmates. The strategy also includes the hiring of more prison staff and the strengthening of existing security measures.

In addition to this, the government has also created a new team of specialist investigators to clamp down on the small minority of corrupt staff who they say have no place in the prison service.

To further combat the smuggling of drugs, over 135 drug trace detection machines have been installed in jails to detect microscopic smears of new psychoactive substances such as ‘spice’ on letters and clothing.

These measures are part of the government's commitment to the Prisons Strategy White Paper, which also includes the rollout of abstinence-based treatment for prisoners addicted to drugs or alcohol and tougher sentences for terrorist prisoners who break the rules behind bars.

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