back to article One cellphone for every ten lags in UK prisons

The Prisons service discovered 8,648 mobile phones in prisons in the last 12 months, forcing prisoners to share one between ten, though it also admitted there could be many more. Prisoners aren't supposed to have mobile phones at all, but stopping them getting into the prisons isn't easy. In response to a parliamentary …

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  1. Gaz Davidson
    FAIL

    RF Signals

    How hard can it be to detect or block the signals?

  2. andy gibson
    Coat

    Blakey Review?

    (With apologies to the wonderful Stephen Lewis) "I 'ate you Nokia"

  3. Tim 30
    Megaphone

    I'm sorry but. . .

    Major crime operations are still being run by scrotes in jail.

    It doesn't take too much effort to put up cell phone blockers in a prison compound, these things are common enough, you can get them from all good stockists for crying out loud and very inexpensive (until some government IT consultants get in on the act and the price goes up by £5M)

    Then they can pay as much as they want for phones, they won't be able to make/receive calls or texts, much like anyone on an O2 phone in Morrison's.

    Don't anyone dare tell me that there's some European human rights thing in the way, there better bl88dy hadn't be!

  4. Craig Mulvaney
    IT Angle

    O/S?

    But which phone operating system do they prefer?

  5. Scho
    Big Brother

    Idea

    Why don't they put their own cell station in each prison and simply monitor all data going in or out?

    Surely this would give them an idea of where the phones are, when they're being used and what information is being passed and to who. More valuable than just blocking them don't ya think?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ gaz Davidson

    It's very easy to detect and block the signals. It's already done in the USA.

    However in Europe that would infringe on the Human Rights of the prisoners. The fact it is illegal for prisoners to have a mobile phone doesn't take away their right to use the mobile phone their not allowed to have.

    Don't you just love Europe!!!

    Paris? - she knows how to use a mobile phone to everyone's advantage!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One mobile between 10...

    ....life sure is hard inside.

  8. lIsRT
    Boffin

    Jamming is Unnecessary

    Just block the signals passively - probably easier to do when the prison is being built, but a thin layer of metal in the walls, and some mesh on the windows would probably work.

    Even fences would probably be enough - unless phone signals are long-wave enough to diffract round them?

  9. Lee Dowling Silver badge
    FAIL

    Missing the point

    Totally missing the point. Cellphone blockers? WTH?

    Stop the damn devices getting into the prison in the first place and you'll never have to worry about such technological solutions. It also stops, as a by-product, drugs, weapons and other similar-sized objects just sailing into a supposedly secure environment.

    If you can't search the visitors, isolate them (whatever happened to a glass screen?) or search the prisoners afterwards. Buy scanners (Heathrow just tested some nice ones!) and scan people. Start finding and throwing out the corrupt guards which are probably the biggest problem.

    And put a damn net on the prison's courtyards and have people actually watch what goes on in them.

    Seriously, are our prisons so damn shoddy that you can pass enough wrapped packages over the wall completely undetected to equip 1 in 10 prisoners with a modern, fragile electronic device that you only LATER discover?

    Solve the problem at its source: prisoners getting access to outside objects in the first place. Phones are bad but hell, what's stopping someone throwing a TASER over? And how many people have ever been arrested for *throwing* the damn things over the walls in the first place?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An oppertunity beckons.

    You know, I'd just bug them and use them as an intelligence source, there's no expectation of privacy in communication between a prisoner and the outside world, so if some face decides to organise a blagging from the scrubs, the old bill can listen in, and set the Sweeny on them for a good old ruck in a shed up near Heathrow, and bang up a few more scrotes.

    You could probably even reward the screws for turning the phone details over to the filth before the pass them on the the lags for a few weeks before you turn over their cells and confiscate it.

    In fact why not set up a few bent screws, but a set of phones and get the screws to flog them repeatedly to the lags, split the proceeds to cut the cost of bangging up to the tax payer.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    block them all!

    and while we're at it, block mobiles (or ban chavs) in cinemas too!

  12. Ian 45
    Big Brother

    Local Houses?

    The problem with blocking signals is that prisons in the UK are right next to housing estates so you inevitably end up blocking their mobile signal as well.

    Now if you cut off the prisoners hands then they would not be able to use said phones and would significantly reduce their ability to reoffend.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Sounds painful

    "Modern phones can be slipped into the body relatively easily"

    I'm guessing "candy bars" are more popular than smart phones; Nokia N97 anyone?

    The way those iPhone "lovers" go on; you'd think that they were Steve's "jobbies" anyway!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ Lee Dowling

    You clearly haven’t worked in a prison, quite often it’s staff smuggling in items, they’re paid jack all so some are corrupt and the good ones only need to be shown a picture of their child walking home from school to realise they need to keep their mouth shut.

    Blocking the signals would be much more effective as for drugs in prison bit deal maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll OD and die.

  15. Paul 4
    FAIL

    @Tim 30 and Anonymous Coward 12:33

    No. It has nothing to do with Human Rights, no matter what the Daliy Fail tells you. Its actualy to do with the UKs strict laws on RF Jamming (I think it comes under rules about broadcasting without a licence).

    If your going to complain at least get your facts right. European Convention on Human Rights is one of the most important laws we have, along with habeas corpus. They are the basis of what makes us civalised, and should be held in higher regards, not blaimed whenever there is something you don't like. These are laws that should apply to all and should be the basis of all free societys.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Crucial Question

    Does Grouty have an iPhone ? If so, what are his favourite apps? If not, someone's going to get hurt !

    (Harry Grout from the UK TV programme Porridge for non UK visitors - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Grout )

  17. R 11

    Goals

    While the goal might be to crack down on cell phones, I think the prisoners are housed in gaols.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Escaping from Prison...

    ... there's an app for that!

  19. Matt 58
    Grenade

    Charging

    While i can see them slipping a phone where the sun don't shine what about the 3 pin charger?

    access to sockets not a problem in prison then? what with the TV's playstations and what ever else they have inside these days. friends of mine are officers, they say its no deterent at all these days. might as well be inside if there is nothing for you on the outside.

  20. zedee

    Hardboard impregnated with iron filings

    Anyone remember this? Can't find a linky.

    The iron absorbs the microwaves in and out - was going to be used in cinemas.

    Simply stick it on all external walls (weatherproofed of course) and hey presto, Johnny Hardknox can't talk to his crew.

    Similar idea to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8279549.stm

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Question...

    How do they charge them?

    Even outside their body, it can't be that easy. Do they 'internalise' the charger as well?

  22. RTNavy
    Black Helicopters

    Blocking

    In the US, you have to have a license to broadcast radio signals into the public airspace.

    In the US, if you have a license to broadcast radio signals, one of the "conditions" of that license is that you don't interfere with other radio signals.

    So, following that "US" logic, you can't block cell phone signals.

    Now, I do believe it would be beneficial to create an exclusion or exception to perform this function, it would still be hard to limit the "blocking" to just prisoner phones. Guards, employees etc also need use of these communication technologies at the same time, in the same areas as the prisoners so the blocking technologies would have holes and "loopholes" that could still be exploited by some of these incarcerated individuals.

    Of course, those of you NOT in the US might have some different rules either to the better or worse than what the US has.

  23. 4HiMarks
    Coffee/keyboard

    charging

    Surely the authorities only have to keep an eye on all electrical outlets. It's not like the prisoners can hide one of those away. As soon as someone tries to plug in a phone charger, confiscate it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Man

    http://cgi.ebay.com/zBoost-YX300-PCS-CEL-Wireless-Cell-Signal-Booster_W0QQitemZ140312003850QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPDA_Accessories?hash=item20ab3f450a

    From a crook friend of mine.

  25. Sooty

    faraday cage

    while actively jamming the signals might not be allowed, it shouldn't be that much trouble to convert the exterior of a completely controlled environment into a Faraday cage. The only issue i can see is that it would also block the guards phones/radios outside of the prison. But then that's what hard lines are there for, as they can be secured.

  26. V 2
    Paris Hilton

    @Zedee

    >>Hardboard impregnated with iron filings

    >> Anyone remember this? Can't find a linky.

    Do you mean this one?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/06/28/magnetic_wood_the_new_mobile/

    Paris, 'cos I bet she always has her 'phone on vibrate

  27. David 45

    Ring tone

    Inside the body? What's the ring-tone? ........"I've got you under my skin" ?

  28. Catherine Keynes

    Cell phones

    You'd need a pretty intense search to find a hidden Haier P7. Phones are typically charged from a laptop using a custom cable from the USB port to whatever the phone connector is, or else as someone mentioned chargers from corrupt guards.

    I imagine there is pressure from those guards to prevent a system of legal intercepts which listened to the calls from inside the prison.

    To block actively you'd need to own the spectrum

    Cat.

  29. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    But

    Don't all phone calls go through one of those secret listening services anyway, along with all our email and everything else we say / do / think?

    If they can't catch the phone call where Jonnys mate Norbert arranges to throw ten phones over the wall at midnight then no amount of listening in to the calls made on those phones is going to reveal any useful information.

    @Ian45

    Whilst chopping off lags hands would solve a certain amount of the problems we have with them nicking stuff then phoning up to see if it has been fenced yet, a slightly less permanent solution would be handcuffs.

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