Banning mobile phone signals in prisons a step closer to becoming law

A new law, being proposed by Maria Caulfield MP, giving powers to block mobile phone signals in prisons across England has passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons, taking it one step closer to becoming law.

The Prison’s (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill has been voted through its final stage in the House of Commons on Friday 6th July 2018. The Bill will now go to the House of Lords for consideration, where Conservative Peer Baroness Pidding will lead on it.

The Bill would give mobile phone companies the powers to block mobile phone signals on prison estates to stop convicted criminals being able to use illegal mobile phones to contact their criminal networks on the outside or intimidate victims of their crimes.

Being in possession of a mobile phone in prison is already illegal and carries a possible two year prison sentence, but with thousands of deliveries and visitors coming and going through prisons each day it is incredibly difficult to find all of them.  Last year 23,565 mobile phone and sim cards were found in prisons in England and Wales, that almost 65 a day. The new powers would render a mobile phone useless within the walls of all prisons in England.

Maria Caulfield MP said “This Bill will stop the use of mobile phones in prisons by giving mobile phone operators the powers to block the signals completely, meaning that even if phones are smuggled in they cannot be used. These phones are used to abuse victims and witnesses, continue criminal activities in the community and abuse prison staff, and this use must be stopped. In the prison in my own constituency, HMP Lewes, 184 mobile phones and 80 sim cards were recovered last year and so the scale of the current problem shouldn’t be underestimated.”

“Some prisoners will only be using an illegal mobile for more reasonable means of contact with family and loved ones. I am therefore pleased that in conjunction with my Bill to block illegal mobile phones, the Ministry of Justice is working on new in cell telephones pre-populated with acceptable contacts allowing prisoners the much needed contact with loved ones, which is proven to reduce reoffending rates.”