Prison X-ray body scanners – the story so far

The government’s Security Investment Programme includes the installation of 75 X-ray body scanners (XRBS) across 74 establishments by the end of March 2022.

The initiative now covers the entire adult male closed prison estate. XRBS were installed in staggered waves over 15 months, with the first wave beginning in July 2020. 51 sites were completed by March 2021 and a further 23 sites were completed by October 2021.

Before the investment programme, there were only 18 XRBS in the prison estate.

What are XRBS used for?

XRBS are used in adult male prisons to detect if prisoners are attempting to conceal contraband internally.

XRBS can only be used on prisoners where there is intelligence or reasonable suspicion that they are internally concealing contraband and there is no other means of detecting the suspected contraband (i.e. full or rub down search).

Scan results

The government has published the following data, charting the success of this search initiative.

Positive scans – i.e. contraband detection – 46,925
Negative scans – 373,745
Inconclusive scans – 14,298

This means a positive result in nearly 11% of cases.

Prisoners found in possession of prohibited items face prison disciplinary proceedings and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. Many offences will result in additional time being spent in custody.

How can we help?

We specialise in criminal defence work. We have over 30 years’ experience representing those facing criminal investigations or charge with serious offences. We make sure we stay up to date with changes in legislation and case law that affect the work we do so that we can give our clients the best possible advice. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact Tarsem Salhan on 0121 605 6000 or at