Ex­tent of phone use in pris­ons is re­vealed

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

MORE than 1,500 mo­bile phones or com­po­nent parts have been found be­hind bars in the past four years.

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son re­vealed the num­ber as he urged MSPs to back reg­u­la­tions that will al­low pris­ons chiefs to have il­licit mo­bile phones blocked by ser­vice providers.

Holyrood’s Jus­tice Com­mit­tee agreed the reg­u­la­tions af­ter Mr Mathe­son said the changes would help make pris­ons safer and would help com­bat or­gan­ised crime.

He said: “Let me be clear, the unau­tho­rised use of mo­bile phones in prison pre­sents a range of se­ri­ous risks to the se­cu­rity of pris­ons and to the safety of the pub­lic.

“They can be used to plan escape or in­dis­ci­pline, or to con­duct se­ri­ous or­gan­ised crime, in­clud­ing drug im­ports and se­ri­ous vi­o­lence from be­hind bars.”

But he said the reg­u­la­tions would “sup­port our com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing the harm caused by se­ri­ous or­gan­ised crime”.

Mr Mathe­son said the changes would al­low the Scot­tish Prison Ser­vice to get a court order that would mean a mo­bile phone be­ing used be­hind bars would be blocked from the net­work mak­ing it “use­less”.

He added: “The chal­lenges posed by unau­tho­rised mo­bile phones and their com­po­nent parts into prison and young of­fend­ers in­sti­tu­tions is not in­signif­i­cant. We re­main com­mit­ted, how­ever, to min­imis­ing the num­ber of mo­bile phones en­ter­ing pris­ons.

“With these pro­vi­sions the courts will also be able to set in place a process to re­move par­tic­u­lar phones from the net­work.”

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