The Government are committed to reducing the number of mobile phones in prisons. We have already strengthened the law through the Offender Management Act 2007, which made it an offence with a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment to bring a mobile phone or component into a prison. We are also taking forward legislation through the Crime and Security Bill to criminalise the possession of devices, including mobile telephones within a prison without authorisation.
Prisons in England and Wales are instructed to send mobile phones and SIM cards found to a central unit and it is from this unit's records that this answer is based. The following table shows the total number of mobile phones and SIM cards that have been interrogated over the last 12 months.
The figures contained in the table have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing data, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. These data are not subject to audit.
The figures understate the actual number of finds, because they do not include items retained by the police for evidential purposes and phones not submitted for other reasons. It is not always appropriate to send phones to the central unit and some phones sent are not interrogated. These have not been included in these figures. NOMS is putting in place new procedures to improve the accuracy of these statistics.
Tackling mobile phones in prison presents substantial and increasing technological challenges, and while the numbers of phones found clearly indicates the scale of the challenge, it is also a reflection of prisons' increasing success in finding them and better reporting. The following table shows the number of mobile phones and SIM cards that have been received from each of the prisons over the last 12 months.
Mobile SIM 2009 March 304 323 Apr 363 357 May 353 377 June 407 396 July 376 425 August 476 393 September 355 345 October 386 373 November 399 337 December 350 325 2010 January 430 423 February 459 479 Total 4658 4553 Note: Each mobile phone and SIM card is counted as a separate item.
Each mobile phone and SIM card is counted as a separate item.