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Prison Service bid to use body scanners in drug battle in Northern Ireland jails

By Michael McHugh

Published 15/01/2016

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has applied for permission to use body scanners in a crackdown on smuggling
The Northern Ireland Prison Service has applied for permission to use body scanners in a crackdown on smuggling

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has applied for permission to use body scanners in a crackdown on smuggling.

The technology is designed to combat the trafficking of banned items into jails.

It comes after dissident republicans protested against the strip-searching of inmates.

At one stage a solicitor said Maghaberry Prison was "awash with drugs". During 2014 there were 224 substance finds at the high-security institution.

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change is considering whether to give X-ray imaging the go-ahead, Stormont's Justice Department said.

Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, said: "If they come up with something that replaces strip-searching we would be delighted."

Mr Spratt added that his members only carried out the procedure to protect the security of the prison and staff.

Dissident republicans have in the past issued death threats against prison staff.

They also shot dead prison officer David Black.

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