Published Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Magilligan prison, near Limavady, Co Londonderry (© UTV)
During Tuesday's Assembly Questions, David Ford revealed that a Millimetre Wave scanner was delivered to the prison on Monday morning and will be operational from next week.
A second pilot, involving a scanner from a different supplier, will commence at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre in October.
The Prison Service is trialling the latest technology in a bid to find less intrusive alternatives to full body searches, in line with recommendations made in Dame Anne Owers' 2011 prison review.
Maghaberry prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim, has been the scene of an ongoing republican protest over strip searches.
Operating in addition to existing search procedures, the scanners will be used to detect contraband concealed on an individual at Magilligan or Hydebank.
The pilot will run for three months.
Justice Minister David Ford said of the Magilligan project: "Following staff training, it is anticipated that the pilot will commence on 26 September.
The Alliance leader also confirmed that the use of Tranmission X-ray scanners has not yet been approved for use in prisons.
"The process of preparing a justification application as required under the legislation is underway."