MarketingMobilitySecuritySocialMediaWorkspace

Prisoners Use Smuggled Phones To Menace Victims On Facebook

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

Follow on: Google +

Ministry of Justice catches 350 inmates using social network in past year, but more slip through the net

Prisoners are intimidating their victims and communicating with the outside world on Facebook, using mobile phones smuggled into jail.

Inmates are forbidden to use the internet or mobile phones, but the inability of authorities to prevent them from getting hold of such devices has sparked outrage from justice campaign groups.

Locking down the Facebook felons

In the last two years, nearly 350 people in the UK have been caught posting entries on Facebook while serving a custodial sentence. All of these profiles were closed once discovered by prison officials, but it is believed that hundreds more have used the social network without arousing suspicion.

Evidence suggests that 8,009 mobile phones or SIM cards were confiscated in prisons in England and Wales during 2008, an increase from the 2,272 phones seized in 2006, and it emerged last year that prisons were continuing to struggle to find mobile phones in prisons following budget cuts.

In February 2010, a convicted arsonist used a smuggled mobile phone to boast about his life of drinking, relaxing and playing video games behind bars, somewhat like a less classy version of the Italian Job’s Mr Bridger(pictured). Meanwhile former justice secretary Jack Straw asked Facebook to take down the profiles of thirty inmates who were using the social network.

This growing problem has led to one US manufacturer to create a “bloodhound detector” which is able to detect the use of mobile phones in restricted areas.

One escaped prisoner used Facebook to taunt the police, posting pictures of him enjoying Christmas day and his ability to “beat the system”. His new-found freedom was short lived however, as he was caught four months after his escape.