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Prisons: Mobile Phones

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2016

The illicit use of mobile phones in prison undermines security, order and control, and has been linked to many forms of criminality. The Government are determined to take action to stop it.

The connection between technology and radicalisation by the dissemination of extremism in prisons is one of the most critical challenges we face. Will my hon. Friend continue to do everything possible to ensure that prisoners, who already face difficulties re-engaging with society, do not have that difficult task made impossible by those who would use technology such as mobile phones to spread extremist poison?

My hon. Friend will no doubt have seen the Government’s response to the review on extremism. I assure him that we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that extremist ideologies are not spread by any means, including mobile phones.

There have been reports from Swansea prison of people throwing mobile phones over the wall, which provides anonymity that allows prisoners to indulge in all sorts of criminal activity. What is the Minister doing about that sort of thing?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Every governor I have spoken to in the last six weeks has mentioned the growing problem of illegal mobile phones in prison. I believe that technology is vital to detecting and blocking such phones. That is why, in addition to the range of technologies that have already been deployed across the prison estate, we have held a high-level meeting with mobile network operators and asked them to use their expertise to develop new technological solutions to deny mobile phone signals in prisons. As responsible businesses, I expect those operators to co-operate fully.