Prisoners in Scottish jails to have mobile phones blocked

Prisoners who use illegal mobile phones while locked up in Scottish jails will have their devices blocked under new plans to be revealed by justice secretary Michael Matheson.

A prisoner looking through the bars of C Hall, in Edinburgh's Saughton prison. Mobile phone use among prisoners has risen sharply in recent years. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL

The telecommunications restrictions orders will further strengthen action against the use of mobile phones including the use of network technology to block active phones within prisons, and permit court orders to remove certain phones from the network entirely.

Mr Matheson will give evidence to Holyrood’s justice committee on Tuesday morning.

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Call for phones to be allowed in Scottish prison cells

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the MSP said: “The unauthorised use of mobile phones in prisons potentially presents a serious threat to both the security of prisons and the wider public.

“The Scottish Government has already made changes to the law to create offences for the possession and introduction of mobile phones or their component parts to prisons and to allow interference with networks within two prisons to disrupt phone use. These regulations will further support our commitment to reducing the harm caused by illegal activity within our prisons.

“The irresponsible and illegal use of phones also causes offence to victims of crime and we are taking steps to reduce their use.”

A report from Reform Scotland published in August said prisoners should have landlines in their cells to help maintain relationships with their families.

The think-tank said staying in touch with loved ones while behind bars would help reduce the risk of re-offending.

But a spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said there were no plans to introduce telephones in prisons in Scotland.