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Prisons: Mobile Phones

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he (1) plans to introduce measures to block mobile phone signals in prisons and detention centres in Northern Ireland; (302943)

(2) has estimated the cost to the public purse of blocking mobile telephone signals in prison facilities in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) is liaising closely with HMPS who are trialling signal blocking equipment in a number of establishments in Great Britain and working with the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and Ofcom to evaluate the technology available. While Ministers are determined to reduce the use of mobile phones in prisons, until the conclusions of the current evaluations and the identification of a preferred option, it is not possible to decide whether such technology will be installed in NIPS. It is also not possible to estimate the likely costs involved at this stage.