Skip to main content

Prisons: Drugs

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Eastleigh of 11 November 2009, Official Report, columns 492-4W, on prisons: drugs, how many prisoners have tested positive for drugs on (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four or more occasions in each prison in 2008-09. (303464)

The information is not held centrally. To provide the data would require a detailed investigation into each prison's mandatory drug testing records, which would be at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many body orifice security scanners are (a) installed and (b) in use in each prison. (303547)

This year NOMS purchased and delivered at least one BOSS chair to every prison that did not already have one, with the exception of immigration removal centres, where the use of mobile phones is not prohibited. Some chairs have since been moved between prisons to better match local risk.

In a survey of BOSS chair usage between 17 and 25 September, 115 prisons reported that the BOSS chair was in use. Reasons for non-operation included awaiting building work to accommodate the chair, and chairs awaiting repair or return from repairs. The pattern of use will vary over time and it is not possible to say how many BOSS chairs are operational on any given day.

NOMS Headquarters have not mandated how BOSS chairs must be used. 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 (PSI) states:

“The frequency of searches using the BOSS and policies for its use are for local discretion”.

Prisons deploy a range of activities and equipment, including hand-held detection wands, as effective alternatives to BOSS chairs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice in which prisons the searching of (a) visitors and (b) staff is not mandatory; and if he will make a statement. (303549)

The National Offender Management Service’s (NOMS) policy requires that in all prisons, procedures are in place for the searching of prisoners, staff, domestic, official and professional visitors and contractors and that this is set out as part of a written local security strategy agreed with the regional manager.

While the searching of visitors and staff will be carried out in all prisons, the level and frequency of such searching at individual establishments is determined by local security and control needs and this is set out in each prison’s local searching strategy.

In the majority of prisons, this will mean a programme of routine searches of both staff and visitors in addition to searches based on suspicion or on receipt of intelligence. In some prisons, particularly some open prisons, a better use of resources may be achieved by carrying out only targeted, intelligence-led or random search programmes.