Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of illicit drug seizures within prisons was attributed to (a) snuffer dogs, (b) closed circuit television, (c) strip searches, (d) intimate searches, (e) searches of prison cells and (f) police intelligence in each of the last five years.
Maria Eagle (Minister of State (also in the Government Equalities Office), Ministry of Justice; Liverpool, Garston, Labour)
Information is not recorded in the format requested and would require requests for and detailed analysis of data returns from all prisons in England and Wales. To do so would incur disproportionate costs.
The combination and extent to which these methods have been used to seize drugs is specific to individual prisons, and will have varied over time as priorities and tactics have changed and evolved.
Local searching strategies are based on an individualised assessment of risk while containing mandatory actions set out in the National Offender Management Service's (NOMS) National Security Framework. NOMS searching policy is based on: common law principles of decency; human rights principles of necessity and proportionately; and not subjecting prisoners to degrading treatment.
An intimate search is defined as a manual search of buccal, anal and/or vaginal cavities. Intimate searching runs a significant risk of causing internal damage, particularly where the subject is non-compliant. Only qualified medical practitioners or registered nurses are able to undertake an intimate examination and will do so only with consent and for health-related reasons.
NOMS policy on searching in prisons does not permit intimate searches to be conducted. Where prison staff suspects internal concealment, the prisoner may be placed in confinement until the item is produced and/or referred to health care whenever there are concerns about health, for example, due to the concealment of drugs.