Prisons: Security

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government is taking to improve security in prisons.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Our prisons face a range of security challenges including the availability of drugs in prison, and psychoactive substances in particular. As a priority we must toughen security and searching to make it much more difficult for anyone to get contraband such as drugs or mobile phones into prisons. Through the Ten Prison Project we are emphasising the use of technology to search letters, bags and people. Alongside making it much harder to get contraband though the prison gate, we are also closing down other routes, such as by using netting to prevent drones and throw-overs. Improved physical security combined with good existing work on intelligence will help inform priority areas for future investment and development right across the prison estate. In the meantime, across our prisons, we have previously invested £2 million in modern technology such as handheld and portable detection devices. This was followed by another £7 million last year to enhance security in prisons through scanners, improved searching techniques and phone- blocking technology. More recently we have introduced dedicated regional search teams that can target specific individuals or parts of our estate on an intelligence-led basis and vulnerability assessments that cover gate security. We are also seeking to improve the resilience of our prisons to specific security threats through, for example, our investment in intelligence teams, a new Financial Investigations Unit, a new Serious Organised Crime Unit and the changes we are making to our dedicated counter-corruption unit as part of our new anti-corruption strategy.

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