Prisons: Drugs and Mobile Phones

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 28 March 2024.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle the smuggling of (a) drugs and (b) communication devices into prisons.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We are committed to tackling the smuggling of all illicit items into prisons, including drugs and communication devices such as mobile phones.

We completed the £100 million Security Investment Programme in March 2022, which included funding to bolster physical security measures. This investment delivered 75 additional X-ray body scanners, resulting in full coverage across the closed adult male estate. As of October 2023, we had recorded 46,925 positive indications, helping to tackle the supply of drugs and mobile phones into prisons. We also deployed Enhanced Gate Security to 42 high-risk prisons under this investment, implementing routine searching of staff and visitors. This included 659 dedicated staff, 154 drug sniffing dogs and over 200 pieces of equipment.

We have 165 drug trace detection machines across the prison estate to prevent the smuggling of drugs, such as psychoactive substances, through the mail. The rollout of an additional 20 next-generation devices was completed in March 2024, meaning every public section prison now has this next-generation equipment.

X-ray baggage scanners have been installed at 49 sites (45 prisons and 4 learning centres) building on the rollout of our X-ray body scanners, gate security and drug trace detection machines.

New airspace restrictions took effect on 25 January 2024 to create 400 metre flight restriction zones around all closed prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales. These will ensure swift action is taken against criminal drone activity, including the smuggling of illicit items.

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