Prisons: Security

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th September 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Onley, published on 20 July 2021, what assessment he has made of the potential need for changes in Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service policy following the discovery of a firearm in an HMP Onley workshop in December 2020.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Onley, published on 20 July 2021, what information his Department holds about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a firearm in an HMP Onley workshop in December 2020.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

On 30 December 2020 at approximately 8:50am, the HMP Onley security team received intelligence that a weapon was hidden in their concrete workshop. As per protocol, the Command Suite was opened, and the National Tactical Response Team were called for assistance. At 11am during a search of the concrete workshop a firearm was found hidden in the cistern of the toilet in the prisoners’ washroom.

We routinely review our security threats and risks and support operations through ensuring appropriate policies and procedures are in place, and that learning on current and emerging risks is shared across the estate.

My department is delivering on the government’s £100 million investment to strengthen prison security, namely through:

  • Enhanced Gate Security (EGS) has been installed at 29 sites, with rollout to a further 13 sites by the end of October, replicating the measures used in airport screening, which has seen newly recruited staff with metal detecting portals and scanners retrieving HUNDREDS of items.

  • The installation of 73 X-ray body scanners, with 2 more to be installed by the end of September this year and a final 1 by the end of January 2022. We have had over 9000 positive indications on X-Ray body scanners, preventing items such as weapons, drugs and mobile phones from entering our prisons.

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