Devon’s crime tsar has welcomed the addition of X-ray body scanners at Exeter Prison in a bid to crack down on smuggling of drugs, phones and weapons.
The city centre slammer is one of 16 across the of the country in line to be fitted with the contraband-busting high-tech machines.
They are expected to be installed at the New North Road lock-up by the summer.
Images produced by the scanner provide a level of detail inside the body that has not been seen before in the Prison Service.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez has haled the ‘fantastic news’.
In tests at HMP Leeds, the technology found more than 300 smuggled items and, in its first year, has slashed the number of drugs getting into the prison.
The use of X-ray body scanners at 10 other challenging prisons was successful in detecting contraband and contributed to a significant reduction in violence and drug use.
“This is fantastic news,” said Ms Hernandez. “I wrote to the previous Minister to prioritise HMP Exeter due to the levels of violence and drug-taking.
“Drugs are rife in British prisons, criminality is allowed to flourish, and gangs exploit fundamental weaknesses in security to carry out their illegal activity.
“Ex-offenders will stand a much better chance of leading fulfilling and productive lives if they have experienced rehabilitation and support while in the care of the Prison Service.”
She added: “HMP Exeter is a remand prison, which means a high turnover of inmates and more opportunities to smuggle.
“Drugs and smuggled phones cause all sorts of problems and tensions inside prisons.
“I hope that here in the Westcountry we will soon be seeing the benefits of this technology for inmates, their families, prison staff and wider society.
“It does not make any sense to any of us that prisoners sometimes have access to drugs in what should be the safest environment possible.”