Body scanners trialled at prison

Published Wednesday, 29 August 2012
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New body scanners will be installed on a trial basis at Magilligan Prison in Co Londonderry in September.

Body scanners trialled at prison
The trial begins next month. (© UTV)

The devices, which are similar to those used in airports, are to be tested on a three-month pilot scheme as part of efforts to find an alternative to full body searches.

"Earlier in the year the (Justice) Minister (David Ford) announced that we were planning to take two pilot schemes forward, and I can now announce that these trials are to begin," said Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Sue McAllister.

"A pilot scheme at Magilligan Prison will commence following the installation of equipment and staff training, which are planned for late September.

"A second pilot scheme at Hydebank Wood will commence in mid October."

Republican prisoners at the high security Maghaberry in Co Antrim are engaged in a long-running protest campaign to see the replacing of so-called strip searches.

The NIPS had committed itself to finding an alternative to the body searches following an independent report, but delays hit the process.

Mr Ford welcomed the introduction of the search technology.

"Unfortunately, a number of practical and logistical matters have taken longer to resolve than was originally anticipated," he said.

"However, NIPS is now in a position to confirm that the first of these two pilots will commence next month.

"It is important to recognise that progress cannot be made at the expense of prison security and the pilots will test whether the technology can offer the same, or even enhanced, safeguards as those provided through the current procedure of full body searching.

"Full body searching is not ideal, whether for prison officers or prisoners."

Mr Ford said the move marked another step towards the modernisation of the Prison Service.

© UTV News
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