HMP Bedford is one of 16 jails to receive X-ray scanners Image By Simon Speed - Own work, Public Domain,

Tough new security measures will be introduced at 16 of the most challenging jails

New X-ray body scanners, developed specifically for the Prison Service, will produce instant images from inside the human body. Revealing any internally concealed contraband, including drugs, mobile phones and weapons.

The technology will be installed first at 16 local jails, including HMP Bedford, with high volumes of remand prisoners. This, the government says poses 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. This includes 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.”

The first wave of jails has been prioritised after careful consideration. The use of X-ray body scanners as part of the ’10 Prisons Project’ contributed to a reduction in violence and drug use.

The installation at the 16 prisons will begin in Spring 2020, with all scanners expected to be in place by the Summer. The technology is set to be introduced in other prisons across the estate later this year.