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Prisoners' mobile phones to be cut off under new law

Prisoners' mobile phones to be cut off under new law

  • 2015-01-04
 Legislation to be debated in the Commons on Monday will mean that once a phone has been identified, the Prison Service will be able to apply to a court for it to be disconnected, says Prisons Minister Andrew Selous
obile phone companies will be forced to cut off signals to handsets being used by inmates in prisons, under planned new laws.

Legislation to be debated in the Commons on Monday will mean that once a phone has been identified, the Prison Service will be able to apply to a court for it to be disconnected.

It will not be necessary to seize the phone or prove that it is being used by a specific prisoner, speeding up the enforcement of the ban on using mobiles behind bars.

In 2013, more than 7,400 handsets were confiscated from prisoners, who are prohibited from using mobile phones and other communications technology.

The ban is seen as essential amid concerns that prisoners can use mobile phones to continue their illegal activities, such as running drug-smuggling networks, from jail.


Phones can also be used for bullying and can lead to disorder in in prisons, officials say.

Concerns have been raised that offenders are widely flouting the blanket ban on using mobile phones.

In October, a series of photographs emerged on social networking websites including Facebook showing violent criminals posing in their underpants and joking with each other.

Andrew Selous, the Prisons Minister, said a security crackdown had already seen an increase in the number of phones seized from inmates while the new powers would ensure more handsets are blocked in future.

"We will never tolerate the use of mobile phones in prisons and will continue to clamp down on their illicit use,” he said.

“This proposed new legislation will significantly increase our ability to tackle this problem.

“By ordering a phone to be cut off once it is identified, we will be able to reassure victims and prevent further criminal activity faster and wider than ever before.”

The plan will be introduced in an amendment the Serious Crime Bill on Monday.

The proposal will see telephone networks compelled to block mobile phones and SIM cards by the courts if they are being used in prisons.

Laws passed in 2012 gave prison governors the power to identify and locate phones in use inside prisons.

The new amendment will take advantage of the cutting-edge detection equipment that is now available to prison staff to identify unauthorised mobile phones and SIM cards.

Giving courts the power to order telephone firms to cut off signals will speed up the process of disconnecting offenders who flout the ban on mobiles. (from The Telegraph)

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