In an attempt to try and curb criminal activity occurring in prison through the use of mobile phones, the government is trialling mobile phone signal jamming technology.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a consultation paper around a proposal to authorise a mobile phone jamming trial at Goulburn Correctional Complex in New South Wales.
These trials follow the successful testing of the mobile jamming technology at Lithgow Correctional Centre, and would see a two year program put in place to assess the long term viability of the program.
Three main issues that will be assessed include whether the physical environment around Goulburn prison will be affected, and whether it will actually stop inmates from using mobile phones illegally.
Most importantly though, it needs to determine whether the benefits of the trial will outweigh possible associated risks.
Mobile phone jammers are currently illegal in Australia, so the trials need to assess things such as how jamming phone signals will affect the ability for the complex to make emergency calls if needed.
A push for mobile phone jammers in prisons was originally explored in 2004, but was eventually stopped after internal testing and results from similar programs in India found that jammers used in Indian prisons caused significant interference to surrounding phone users and adjacent frequencies.
As of the end of last year, all maximum and medium security prisons have a full body scanner capable of detecting switched off mobile phones concealed within a body cavity. Despite this, phones are still being smuggled into prisons.
In April, along with thousands of other illegal items, dozens of mobile phones were found in crackdowns across NSW prisons.