Britain’s prisons are going to further enhance the mobile phone blocking technology they use in order to prevent criminals from accessing the internet and having unauthorised conversations.
The new measures — announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement yesterday and reported in The Financial Times — will be introduced by the Department of Justice and funded with the help of a new £1.3 billion pot of money that has been pledged to improve the nation’s Prison Service.
Prisons across Britain currently allow inmates to use monitored landline phones but mobile phone use is limited and must be approved first.
Earlier this year, the government issued a fact sheet on mobile phone use in prisons. It said mobile phones were being used “by serious organised criminals to import firearms and drugs, co-ordinate escapes and to arrange murder”.
The government introduced a law in January that enables prison authorities to cut off signals to mobile phones used by prisoners. Specifically, the new powers allowed Prison Service employees to apply for a phone disconnection after they’d identified it.
A number of UK prisons already have mobile phone blocking technology but the FT reports that there have been a number of cases where prisoners have been able to get round it.
The Ministry of Justice claims the new technology is better than before, adding that it will “stamp out the organisation of crime from within prisons, and stem the availability of drugs and other illicit substances.”
The £1.3 billion investment will also be used to build nine new prisons.
The money will also be used to roll out teleconferencing equipment to prisons so that prisoners don’t need to travel to court for their probation hearings.
George Osborne, the chancellor, said the measures would reduce prison running costs by £80 million.
“New investment will also fund video conference centres, allowing up to 90,000 cases to be heard from prison instead of court, and will deliver more safety improvements in prisons, including body scanners and mobile phone blocking technology,” he added.
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