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Prisoners: Body Searches

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many intimate searches were carried out in prisons in each of the last five years; (316186)

(2) how many strip searches were carried out in prisons in each of the last five years;

(3) whether CCTV is installed in every visitor hall in prisons in England and Wales.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) policy on searching within prisons does not permit intimate searches to be conducted.

Full searches (commonly known as strip-searches) may be carried out in order to detect items of contraband secreted on the person. NOMS' National Security Framework permits establishments to full search prisoners both on a routine and intelligence-led basis. Visitors and staff may be full-searched only in exceptional circumstances. Records of full searches conducted in prisons are not held centrally. To provide the information requested would involve requesting and collating information from all prisons which could be done only at disproportionate cost.

CCTV cameras are widely deployed in visit rooms across the prison estate. They help to reduce and detect the passing of contraband between visitors and prisoners and to record, for evidential reasons, information on any incidents that may occur. However, details of equipment installed in visits rooms are not held centrally. To collate this information across the prison estate would incur disproportionate cost.