Convicts’ Facebook Pages Removed After Victim Abuse

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Facebook has taken down thirty pages belonging to prisoners, who used the site to communicate with associates on the outside, as well as taunt victims

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has revealed that he asked Facebook to the remove the pages of thirty inmates, who were using the social networking site to taunt victims and communicate with associates outside of prison.

“We’ve made requests for the removal of 30 sites and they’ve responded to do that positively, with no single refusal, within 48 hours, so we just want to push this forward,” Straw told the BBC.

He was speaking after a meeting with victim campaigners to discuss prisoners using social networking sites to taunt families, and said the government would be looking at other measures to prevent inmates from accessing web pages and abusing their victims.

Facebook apparently removed the pages concerned within 48 hours of Jack Straw’s request, who said he was “reassured by the co-operation which we’re receiving from Facebook.”

“We’re looking at other ways in which we can raise the stakes against prisoners who seek to use these sites. It’s unlawful, it’s against prison rules, which is the law,” he told the BBC.

It was revealed that Colin Gunn, a double murder plotter serving time in a maximum security jail, posted threats to his rivals via Facebook via a smuggled mobile phone, saying he could not wait to see the fear in people’s eyes when he got home.

Jade Braithwaite, 20, the killer of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella, used Facebook to boast he was “down but not out”. He said he wanted a remote control so he could “mute or delete people when I need to.” And prolific burglar Roy Boodle, 28, taunted detectives saying he could not be caught, but was eventually jailed.

Last week Brendan Rawsthorn, from Blackburn, Lancashire, boasted of playing computer games, drinking beer and “putting his feet up” all day.

One post read: ”All day is playing on my PlayStation and listing to music with my feet up, drinking prison home brew.”

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Another case was that of escaped criminal, 28 year old Craig “Lazie” Lynch, who used Facebook to taunt British police over the Christmas period. Lynch created a Facebook web page in which he bragged about relaxing on a sunbed, eating 12lb steaks, and making plans to attend a New Year’s Eve party in Lowestoft, Suffolk. He was later arrested by police.

The use of smuggled mobile phones is well known problem for the authorities. In December, it emerged that a total of 8,099 mobile phones or SIM cards had been confiscated in prisons in England and Wales in 2008, compared to just 2,272 seized in 2006.

In an effort to combat the problem, a US company developed what it called the “Bloodhound detector”, which ‘sniffs out’ and locates mobile phones being used in restricted environments. The Bloodhound detector is mainly designed for use in prisons.