A new generation of drugs scanners is to be purchased for prisons in England and Wales, the BBC understands.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is said to have made the decision because of continuing problems with drugs being smuggled into jails.
It comes as independent think tank the Centre for Social Justice released a report saying the X-ray scanners had been a “game changer” in US prisons.
But critics said intervention and drug treatments would be more effective.
The cost of installing the scanners in every prison in England and Wales is estimated to be about £15m.
‘Awash with Drugs’
As well as being smuggled by visitors, prisoners and corrupt staff, drugs can be sent through the post or thrown over prison walls.
Manual searches are currently conducted in most prisons, making it difficult to detect illegal substances and so-called legal highs that have been swallowed or concealed within someone’s body, according to the CSJ.
The report says low-dosage X-ray machines would be able to detect if people are smuggling drugs under clothing or inside the body and should be used on prisoners and visitors as well as a tenth of prison staff a month.
The CSJ, which spoke to over 120 prison experts and prisoners for the review, said drug use was “rife” and found 31% of prisoners said it was “easy” to get hold of drugs in prison.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice show the number of drug seizures have increased from 3,700 in the year to March 2011 up to nearly 4,500 in 2013-14.
But fewer than 100 visitors trying to bring drugs into prisons were identified through searches last year, the CSJ said.
This article was published by BBC News