'Special isolation unit' toilet
Stuffers and swallowers
The Science Museum may hold a fine selection of early toilets courtesy of Thomas Crapper but probably none quite like this one from HM Revenue and Customs' collections.
Sometimes known as the 'Frost' chamber, this is a toilet with a difference. It was designed for a serious purpose; to locate internally smuggled drugs as they pass naturally through the body. Before its invention customs officers used rubber gloves and a colander, so this was seen as a much-needed replacement!
Any swallowed packages containing drugs could easily be seen in the clear tube at the centre of the unit. They would then be washed and collected in section on the right hand side.
The first card model of the chamber, designed and constructed by a customs officer, is also held in the museum’s collections. That early model was to evolve into the prototype from Gatwick Airport that is shown here.
This object is not curently on display.
Accession number CENM1995.91.2