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Doncaster Prison sees 3,350 per cent rise in seizures of mobile phones and SIM cards

HMP Doncaster
HMP Doncaster
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Doncaster Prison has seen the number of mobile phones and SIM cards seized from its inmates rise by over 3,000 per cent.

The figure at the jail at Marshgate, near the town centre, is one of the highest in the country, and represents the rise in confiscations between 2011 and 2017.

It rose from six in 2011, to 207 last year, a total of 3,350 per cent. But last year's figure was a fall from the 2014 total of 417.

Other prisons in the Doncaster borough have seen smaller rises, although one, HMP Moorland, has seen the figure fall.

The data is for the number of mobile phone and SIM card discoveries broken down by prisons in the years 2010-14 and 2017. The data was sourced from written Parliamentary questions, cited in Hansard, the official publication which records proceedings in parliament.

There are concerns that some prisoners want a mobile phone so they can carry out illegal activities, arrange drug smuggling and other crimes, which is acknowledged by Frances Crook, chief executive of The Howard League for Penal Reform. But she added: "If prisoners had better access to phones, the massive trade in smuggling them in would stop and staff could concentrate on stopping the inflow of phones being used for crime.

"I rarely give a positive shout to the private prisons, but on this occasion they have led the way. In private prisons, people have phones in their cells and the contracts are not with BT but other providers that are much cheaper. The calls may be monitored and listened into, so the serious security risks are managed."

Jerry Spencer, Serco contract director at the privately run HMP Doncaster, said:“Over the past years we have made a major effort to reduce the numbers of phones being brought into the prison and these statistics demonstrate the success we have had in finding them. I am very proud of the work the team does in this area.

“The technology we are able to use has improved significantly and we have made it much harder for people to smuggle a phone in.

“Mobile phones are not allowed in prisons under any circumstances. We take a zero tolerance approach to anyone found attempting to bring a phone into the prison or using one and we work with the police to bring a prosecution.”

Moorland Prison saw its figure fall from 65 in 2011 to 63 last year. The figure in 2010 was 111.

Hatfield Prison was up 91 per cent from 58 in 2011 to 111 last year.

The figure at Lindholme Prison was up from 96 to 359 , a rise of 274 per cent.

A Prison Service spokesperson said:“These statistics show that we are successfully stopping contraband from entering the prison estate. Better intelligence and improved security measures are allowing us to catch more illicit items than ever before.

“However, we acknowledge that more must be done and as Minister Rory Stewart has previously stated, there are only five ways in which contraband can be smuggled into prisons and we are taking steps to tackle all five. We’ve addressed flying contraband in by tackling drones, the throwing over of items by the use of nets and searches, the dragging in of items by identifying wires and the posting of drugs by photocopying letters."