Scanning of Prisoners – the story so far

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Scanning of Prisoners – the story so far

The introduction of X-ray body scanners (XRBS) as part of the Security Investment Programme includes installation of 75 scanners across 74 establishments by the end of March 2022.

This initiative now covers the entire adult male closed prison estate. XRBS were installed in staggered waves over 15 months, with the first wave beginning in July 2020. 51 sites were completed by March 2021 and a further 23 sites were completed by October 2021.

Before the investment programme, there were only 18 XRBS in the prison estate.

XRBS are used in adult male prisons to detect if prisoners are attempting to conceal contraband internally.

XRBS can only be used on prisoners where there is intelligence or reasonable suspicion that they are internally concealing contraband and there is no other means of detecting the suspected contraband (i.e. full or rub down search).

Scan results

The government has published the following data, charting the success of this search initiative.

Positive scans - i.e. contraband detection - 46,925

Negative scans - 373,745

Inconclusive scans - 14,298

So this means a positive result in nearly 11% of cases.

Prisoners found in possession of prohibited items face prison disciplinary proceedings and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. Many offences will result in additional time being spent in custody.

If you are facing an investigation or prosecution for any alleged infringement, it is vital to seek early legal advice.

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0208 309 5010 or email

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