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Mobile Phones: Smuggling into Prisons

Volume 644: debated on Tuesday 10 July 2018

It is central that we also tackle mobile telephones. The reason is that if we do not, crimes can be committed by people within prison reaching outside the prison walls, both bringing illicit substances into the prison and terrorising their victims outside.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) for the private Member’s Bill that she effectively took through on Friday. That is going to make it much more difficult for people to use mobile phones in prisons, by working with the mobile telephone companies.

I was in the Chamber to see the progress of my hon. Friend’s Bill on Friday. It is an exceptionally well put together Bill. What discussions has the Minister had with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about the implementation? When are we likely to see some progress?

I have met the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and we have looked at two areas. We have looked at devices that can be used within the prison walls. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) pointed out in his speech on Friday, and in his question today, there is much more that we can now do by working with the mobile telephone companies to identify the exact frequencies and strengths of transmissions, to locate the mobile phones, prevent their use and analyse the traffic data.

24. Diolch yn fawr iawn. I rise as co-chair of the justice unions parliamentary group. Management at HMP Berwyn has made much of the use of digital technology as part of its innovative regime, but in recent days, prison officers there have lost teeth through being head-butted, have been injured, pushed down stairs and had excrement and urine thrown over them. I am told that violence against staff goes effectively unpunished, with prisoners spending only a few hours in segregation. Senior management lost a vote of confidence by prison officers last week. Given the Secretary of State’s announcement today, what will the Minister do to safeguard prison officers at Wrexham? (906371)

This is a very serious point and a very serious challenge. I will be following up this allegation with the governor. The governor has generally done a very good job in Berwyn, and the report that the hon. Lady raises is very disturbing. We must be clear that we have to support our prison officers. We are doing that through supporting a private Member’s Bill to double the sentence for assaults, and investing in body-worn cameras and trials of PAVA spray. But unless we have decent safety regimes, it is almost impossible to do other forms of rehabilitation. We need to learn from the prisons that are doing best in reducing violence. I pay tribute, for example, to Wandsworth, which has made a lot of progress over the past 12 months.