New high-tech X-Ray Body Scanners will be phased into Northern Ireland's prisons as part of the fight against the trafficking of illegal contraband, including drugs.
The scanners, which are already being used in other regions of the UK, have been described as a 'game changer' by the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Ronnie Armour.
Speaking today at Maghaberry Prison, Mr Armour said: "Some people in our prisons are determined to traffic contraband into our establishments, however we are equally determined to stop them. Our fight against illegal trafficking has taken a huge step forward with the introduction of X-Ray Body Scanners into Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank.
"This technology should be seen as a deterrent to those who wish to use their bodies to bring in drugs and other illegal items into our prisons. This really has the potential to be a game changer in our efforts to thwart their efforts; it will assist in the detection and prosecution of offenders; and as a result will make our prisons safer for our staff, partner agencies and the people in our care.
"The introduction of this technology is a key recommendation from the Criminal Justice Inspector and demonstrates our determination to makes our prisons as safe as we can to facilitate our focus on rehabilitation as we challenge and support those in our care to change their behaviours."
The new scanner will 'go live' in Maghaberry Prison today with other machines planned for Hydebank and Magilligan later in the month.
The Governor of Maghaberry Prison, David Savage said: "This technology was initially piloted in prisons in England and has recently been introduced in Scotland. Last year over one in ten scans in England and Wales highlighted the presence of contraband. Experience elsewhere indicates that this technology will greatly assist prison officers in controlling the flow of drugs in our prisons. My message to anyone thinking of attempting to traffic contraband is simple - don't do it, we will find it."