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​X-ray scanner to zap out prison contraband

Published date: Wednesday 13 June 2018

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A Sydney prison is ramping up security by being the first in the state to install full-body X-ray scanners and a heart-rate detector to make the searching of inmates and vehicles going in and out of the centre more effective.

The maximum-security John Morony Correctional Centre near Windsor will begin using the X-ray technology later this year to put an end to the inmate practice of internally secreting and smuggling items into prisons.

Corrective Services NSW Acting Commissioner Luke Grant said the two measures would create an additional level of security at the centre and keep the community safe.

“Contraband is an ongoing issue internationally - inmates internally conceal all kinds of items from mobile phones, illicit drugs and weapons,” Mr Grant said.

“The full body X-ray scanner will provide us with the capacity to detect this contraband before it makes its way into our centres through the screening of all inmates that arrive at the centre and after each contact visit.”

Assistant Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said the heart beat sensor, known as a Human Presence Detection System, will allow prison officers to pinpoint whether anyone is hiding in a vehicle attempting to escape the centre.

“The HPDS will provide an additional layer of security, particular for larger commercial and industrial vehicles, which present unique challenges to officers due to their multiple compartments and chambers,” Mr Corcoran said.

“Our officers are looking forward to using the new technology, which will assist them in enhancing the good order and discipline of the centre.”

The non-medical X-ray scanner will first detect then generate an image of a contraband item concealed in a body cavity or under clothing, reducing the need to conduct strip searches and providing conclusive evidence of contraband.

Internally secreting items in body cavities has become an effective method for inmates to not only smuggle in contraband but to move it around the centre.

The advent of mobile phones, which are smaller and contain minimal metal-components, makes them easier to hide internally and harder to detect with existing technologies.

These contraband phones allow inmates to continue criminal activity from within correctional centres and pose a risk to the safety and security of the community.

The technology allows CSNSW to safely scan an inmate up to 150 times in a 12-month period without exceeding prescribed exposure levels.

CSNSW last year won the tender to manage the centre against three private prison operators. The X-ray and HPDS technology were an initiative of the winning tender.John Morony Correctional Centre - exterior