More prisons to take visitors' biometrics

Trying to cut down on contraband...
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

Trying to cut down on contraband...

The number of UK prisons biometrically scanning the fingerprints and faces of people visiting inmates is to increase.

In a written statement to parliament on Monday, Fiona Mactaggart, an under-secretary for the Home Office, said around 25 prisons have already introduced biometric systems which record facial images and fingerprints that are used to confirm visitors' identities each time they enter or leave the prison.

And on Monday Mactaggart said 20 more prisons would introduce the technology.

She said: "The tracking of visitors using biometric technology will provide establishments with greater assurance as to the identity of visitors and assist in enforcing the measures imposed on those visitors found to have been smuggling drugs and contraband."

However, two weeks ago she said there would be a total of 36 prisons that use biometrics. The Home Office could not confirm which version was true.

The introduction of biometrics in prisons is aimed at cutting down on contraband - prohibited items such as mobile phones and alcohol - and drug trafficking, the Home Office said.

A clause in the UK law called Prison Rule 71, which was amended in 2005, gives prisons the authority to take biometrics from visitors.

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