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Prison Searches

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of the number of body searches, cell searches and cell changes and strip searches carried out on each of the category A prisoners being held at Her Majesty's Prison, Durham monthly, since July, if any prison contraband, smuggled item or illegal correspondence was discovered in any search, indicating which items; in how many cases prisoners refused to be searched and had to be restrained while the search was being conducted; and what were the reasons for the search.

Records are not kept of the occasions when rub down searching or "frisking" is carried out in prisons and it is not the practice to disclose detailed information about security arrangements such as that requested about the frequency of cell searches and cell changes.Establishments are not required to record all strip searches and comprehensive records are available only in respect of category A women prisoners, of whom there were four in Durham prison between 1 July and 30 November. The number of occasions on which each was strip searched in each month during this period is shown in the following table:







No unauthorised article was found. On no occasion did the prisoners refuse to be strip-searched.

Strip-searching is a routine security measure to which all inmates— male and female—are subject, both for its deterrent effect and as a means of discovering unauthorised articles.