New body scanners technology will allow prison officers to find hidden drugs, cash or phones without having to physically search detainees.

New body scanners technology will allow prison officers to find hidden drugs, cash or phones without having to physically search detainees.

As part of a $1.3 million spend, the Tasmanian government will introduce body scanners at the Launceston and Hobart reception prisons, Risdon Prison Complex, and the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

Similar to technology already used at some airports across the world, the body scanners will allow correctional officers to not only view items hidden under a person’s clothing, but objects concealed inside their body.

It is something the state’s Children’s Commissioner Leanne McLeancalled for in 2019, with young people previously strip searched on a routine basis at both the Launceston and Hobart reception prisons, and at Ashley.

Ms McLean said the next step would be to introduce a hierarchical approach, which combined with the use of body scanning technology would allow correctional staff to determine under what circumstances a physical search was still appropriate.

“With body scanners a young person can come into custody and be transferred into detention if they are remanded or sentenced, and not have to remove their clothing unless there is a reason, and for many young people that will not be the case,” she said.

“This means young people are not retraumatised by the process of having to remove clothing. It makes it easier for staff as well, because let’s face it, undertaking these types of searches is not pleasant for anyone involved.

“Until 2019, it was standard routine to strip search people, and that has now stopped. This will enable the number of young people who still have to remove their clothing to hopefully get down to zero.”

Also calling for the technology for several years the state’s correctional officers have welcomed the announcement.

United Workers Union Delegate and Health and Safety Representative Philip Pregnell said members were “looking forward to consultation on the procurement and procedures for a timely implementation”.

“Body scanning technology is something members have been seeking to assist in our work safety and prison security. It will lead to safer work for members, and increased dignity for prisoners,” he said.

While physical searches would continue in some circumstances, Corrections Minister Elise Archer said once the body scanning technology was in place, it would act as a deterrent, and reduce the time in which it takes for officers to complete their searches.

“The new scanners are able to detect objects on or inside a person’s body and clothing, without the need to physically remove clothing or make any physical contact with the person being searched, providing a less intrusive process for personal searches,” she said.

“The scanner is able to provide an instant internal image which can reveal contraband.”

The government did not provide a timeframe for when the technology would be implemented.

Originally published at Examiner