The Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced that the Government is set to spend £10 million installing more phones into prisoner’s cells in a bid to tackle violence and re-offending.
The government hopes extending the scheme will boost rehabilitation by helping inmates maintain ties with family members, whilst attempting to tackle the flow of illegal mobiles and increased tension on prison wings.
In-cell phones allow prisoners to make calls in private at a time which fits with their families’ schedules and are currently installed in 20 prisons in England and Wales.
Under the expansion of the scheme, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), plan to have installed the private phones at 50 prisons throughout England and Wales by March 2020.
As well as helping prisoners connect with their families, the phones also give them easier access to support services such as the Samaritans and MIND, therefore reducing their risk of self-harm which has been a major challenge faced by jails in recent years.
All calls on in-cell phones are recorded and can only be made to a small number of pre-approved numbers. In the event that they are suspected of being used for criminal activity, calls can be monitored, and governors have the power to remove the phones of those who have misused them.
Authorities have identified the illegal use of mobiles as one of the most significant threats faced by jails, while tension can arise in prisons from inmates queuing to use communal phones.
In the 12 months to March, there were 10,643 incidents where mobile phones were found in prisons, a 15 per cent increase compared with the previous year.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “In-cell telephones provide a crucial means of allowing prisoners to build and maintain family relationships, something we know is fundamental to their rehabilitation.
“Introducing them to more prisons is a recognition of the contribution I believe in-cell telephones make to turning prisons into places of decency where offenders have a real chance to transform their lives.”