REGINA -- Since installing an x-ray body scanner at the start of October, the Regina Correctional Centre has caught six offenders attempting to smuggle in contraband to the facility.

“It allows us to address the contraband issue that presents itself day-in and day-out at the Regina Correctional Centre,” Director Julien Hulet said.

The scanner allows corrections staff to screen offenders entering the facility for narcotics that may be hidden on or inside their body. The contraband entering the Correctional Centre ranges from drugs and tobacco to weapons.

The first positive scan came just two weeks after the scanner went into operation.

Hulet estimates that 75 per cent of their jail population is drug users.

He says that using the body scanner to cut off the drug supply gives them a tool to address other security issues as well, such as gangs, which use the drug trade to gain a foothold in the Correctional Centre.

“You have a competing interest around a commodity that people are trying to generate revenue from and so this machine will allow us to stop, put the brakes, on those activities,” Hulet said.

According to the Ministry of Corrections and Policing, the body scanner cost $175,000, which includes the installation, maintenance and training for the staff.

The scanner went into operation on Oct. 9, since then the staff gives offenders entering the facility the option of voiding themselves of anything that they’re carrying into an amnesty box before going through the scanner.

“The intent isn’t to punish people or punitively, that might be an outcome in some cases for people trying to bring contraband in,” Hulet said. “It’s being perceived as very serious and severe, but our intent is to not have it enter into the facility.”

The Ministry plans to purchase scanners for the Saskatoon and Prince Albert correctional centres before the end of the fiscal year.