New Prisons Bill to block mobile phones

A Bill providing new powers to block mobile phone signals in prisons has had its second reading in the House of Lords.

Nov 29, 2012
By Paul Jacques

A Bill providing new powers to block mobile phone signals in prisons has had its second reading in the House of Lords.

The Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill has the backing of the Ministry of Justice and will enable ministers across Britain to authorise governors to use technology to detect and disrupt the use of phones in prisons. This will assist in reducing the intimidation of witnesses, disrupt the supply of drugs and contraband into prison and impede criminal activity orchestrated by prisoners from their cells.

In 2011, over 7,000 illicit phones and SIM cards were found in prisons in England and Wales
The Prison Service has been trialling a range of mobile phone signal denial technology in a number of prisons. It has been working closely with mobile network operators and Ofcom to ensure that the equipment does not interfere with mobile phones outside prison walls.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said: “We are determined to address the risks posed by mobile phones in prisons and we fully support this Bill. The new technology to locate smuggled mobile devices or render them useless will play an important role in tackling illegal activity in prisons.

“Prisons work hard to tackle the consequences of phones in prison but clearly the problem persists. This will be an invaluable tool to combat this serious issue.”

The Private Members Bill has been brought forward by Sir Paul Beresford in the House of Commons and Lord Laming in the House of Lords.

The Bill will place ‘interference with wireless’ telegraphy in prisons on a clear statutory footing, allowing prison operators to use the data collected by the equipment to investigate illegal use of mobile phones in the prisons.

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