Political News Updates

13.05.2014

Prisons: Mobile Phones

Stephen Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many times the offence of possession of mobile telephones within a prison has been proceeded upon; and how many days were added to the offender's sentence in each case. [197533]

Jeremy Wright: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) takes the issue of mobile phones in prisons very seriously and is committed to addressing the risks they present to both the security of prisons and the safety of the public.

NOMS has implemented a multi-layered approach: to minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons, to find phones that do get in and to disrupt mobile phones that cannot be found. A range of technology has been rolled out to prisons to strengthen searching and security, including portable mobile phone signal detectors, Body Orifice Security Scanners (BOSS chairs), high sensitivity metal detecting wands and short range portable mobile phone blockers.

The adjudication process exists to allow prison governors to deal with breaches of prison discipline, including possession of unauthorised items such as mobile telephones.

From centrally held data, it is not possible to identify those offenders who breached prison discipline by possessing a mobile phone, were proceeded against and given the punishment of additional days. The prison adjudication offence details held centrally are not of sufficient detail to identify the specific breach item—mobile phone possession offences are grouped with other prohibited items.

Determining if the requested information is held would require a manual search through all individual prison records where a breach of prison discipline led to adjudication in respect of possession of a prohibited item to see if any information is recorded on the type of item. Inspecting each record to ascertain if there was an adjudication for possession of a mobile phone and how many additional days were given as a punishment could be done only at disproportionate cost.