Bedford among the first prisons to benefit from £28m X-ray body scanners

Prison x-ray
Contraband concealed within a prisoner's body can be detected by the state-of-the-art body scanners

Troubled HMP Bedford is among 16 of the most challenging prisons to receive innovative new security measures as part of the Government’s crackdown on crime behind bars.

The new X-ray body scanners, developed specifically for the prison service, produce instant images from inside the human body and can reveal internally concealed contraband, including drugs, mobile phones and weapons.

The cutting-edge technology will be installed first at the 16 prisons with high volumes of remand prisoners who pose the greatest risk of smuggling.

The £28 million that will pay for X-ray scanners across the estate is being funded from the Government’s £100 million package to boost security.

The investment will 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, “New technology is a vital part of our efforts to stop those determined to wreak havoc in our jails.

“These scanners will help to stem the flow of contraband into jails and allow officers to focus on rehabilitation.

“We’re investing £2.75 billion to transform our prisons, creating 10,000 additional modern places, and stepping up security to cut crime and better protect the public.”

Prison x-ray

Gary Monaghan, prison group director for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk said, “New X-ray body scanners and other security equipment will be a vital part of our drive to reduce drug addiction and tackle the criminals trafficking drugs into our prisons.

“Reducing the supply of drugs will cut violence and enable us to create a safer environment for both staff and prisoners, as well as allowing us to focus more rehabilitative and education work.”

The installation at HMP Bedford will begin in Spring 2020, with all scanners expected to be in place by the Summer.

The images produced by the scanner provide a level of detail inside the body that has not been seen before in the Prison Service.

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


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