Extent of phone use in prisons is revealed
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.”