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Prison Security

Volume 202: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will arrange for the installation of X-ray and metal detecting equipment at Her Majesty's prison, Armley, Leeds, to be expedited; and what steps are being taken to ensure that sufficient staff are available to ensure that the equipment will be operational at all times;(2) by what date all of Her Majesty's prisons within the United Kingdom will have X-ray and metal-detecting equipment available; and whether additional staff w)11 be required at any of Her Majesty's prisons to ensure such equipment is operational at all times.

As my right hon. Friend announced following the report of the inquiry by Her Majesty's chief inspector of prisons into the escape of two prisoners from Her Majesty's prison Brixton on 7 July 1991, it is intended to install X-ray machines and metal detector portals into prisons holding category A prisoners. His statement concerned prisons in England and Wales, the position in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland.A contract for the provision of X-ray machines to 23 designated prisons has been let. Deliveries will commence in February and continue into May. Deliveries are being arranged so that each prison, including Her Majesty's prison Leeds will have one X-ray machine by 31 March 1992 with further machines being supplied later.Staffing requirements will be determined by the area manager for each establishment. It is anticipated that additional staff will be required and financial provision has been made.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training is being given to the staff of Her Majesty's prisons within the United Kingdom in the operation of X-ray and metal-detecting equipment.

The contract which has been let to supply the X-ray machine to selected prisons in England and Wales includes basic training, of one day's duration, for 20 staff from each establishment and supervisors' training, of two days duration, for two staff from each establishment. Additional training in the interpretation of X-ray pictures is being arranged.In addition, arrangements are being made to train a radiation protection supervisor for each establishment. Training in the use of metal detectors is much more straightforward and will be provided at the establishment by prison staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total cost of supplying x-ray and metal-detecting equipment to prisons in the United Kingdom in the current year; where the equipment is manufactured; what is the minimum delivery date; and what is the total cost of training staff in the use of such equipment.

The estimated cost of supplying x-ray machines to selected prisons in England and Wales in 1992 is £1.6 million. Metal detecting equipment will cost a further £75,000.The equipment is manufactured in Croydon. It is estimated an initial delivery of one machine per establishment will be completed by 31 March with the remaining machines installed by the end of May.Metal detector portals are purchased as required.The total cost of training staff to use this equipment is estimated at £150,000.