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Drugs: Prisons

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has any plans to make the use of body orifice security scanner chairs mandatory for (a) visitors and (b) staff members entering a prison in England and Wales. (300795)

The National Offender Management Service has not mandated how body orifice security scanner (BOSS) chairs must be used and currently has no plans to do so. As is the case for many searching technologies and techniques, the decision on how to use the BOSS chairs is for individual governors to make, and will depend on their local circumstances, including their existing local searching strategies. The relevant Prison Service Instruction says:

‘The frequency of searches using the BOSS and policies for its use are for local discretion’

and makes it clear that this can include using the BOSS chair to search staff and visitors. Searching strategies and levels of searches are based on a number of factors, including local resources and intelligence. The recently published Mobile Phones Good Practice Guide also provides specific advice on tackling the smuggling of mobile phones by staff and visitors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many incidents of alcohol being (a) brought into and (b) brewed in prison there have been in each prison in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years. (300807)

Finds of alcohol within prisons are treated as a miscellaneous incident and recorded on the Prison Service Incident Reporting System. These incidents are in a format that cannot readily be interrogated electronically. To provide the information requested would involve the manual inspection of more than 100,000 incident records which could be achieved only at disproportionate cost.

NOMS has in place a strategy to reduce both the supply and the demand for alcohol with a comprehensive range of security measures and searching techniques to detect items of contraband, including alcohol, and prevent smuggling into establishments. It is a criminal offence to convey alcohol into prison and prisoners caught in possession of alcohol within prison will face disciplinary action. Alcohol consumption is a cause of criminality in society and many prisons have programmes in place to assist prisoners to lessen their dependence on alcohol.