Winchester jail awash with illegal mobile phones

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WINCHESTER jail is awash with mobile phones — as criminals continue to profit from behind bars.

Research carried out by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit shows the prison had 42 discoveries of phones and sim cards in 2017 out of 650 prisoners.

Authorities fear the problem is getting out of hand with the figures showing a marked increase after the number of reported cases was just nine out of 672 inmates in 2014.

Overall, the change in discovery numbers of phones from 2011 to 2017 reveals a massive 1,300 per cent hike.

Phones are a valuable illegal resource that allow prisoners to continue a life of crime unhindered behind bars.

It is an offence to have a mobile phone in prison with it carrying a two-year sentence. The Prison Service has invested £2m in detection equipment as part of its wider strategy to stamp out criminality in prisons across the UK.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘We are taking decisive action to find and block mobile phones, including a £2m investment in detection equipment. We have legislated to stop phones from being used in prisons.

‘The measures are part of a much wider strategy to tackle the most pressing threats to security in prisons and backed by a strengthening of the frontline with an additional 3,111 prison officers in place at the end of March 2018 than were in post in October 2016.

‘We are fully supporting all of the additional security in response to the issue of contraband being smuggled into our prisons. Our prisons have developed better processes to detect contraband entering the prison such as mobile phones.’

The findings come off the back of Ministry of Justice figures showing overcrowding at Winchester jail with 629 prisoners crammed into just 458 spaces in March.

Campaigners say the unchecked rise of the prison population is responsible for the huge increase in assaults on staff and other inmates.