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A total of 45 illicit mobiles phones have been found during an intelligence-led raid at HM Prison Ford in West Sussex.

The raid which took place at the open prison on Saturday saw prison staff being drafted in from surrounding prisons and comes almost two years after the prison errupted into a riot as a result of alcohol in January 2011.

A Prison Service spokesperson told Converse:

“As a result of pro-active and intelligence led searches, staff at Ford prison intercepted a number of mobile phones.

“These find demonstrates the vigilance of staff and that security measures are working.”

Those prisoners found in possession of the phones will be subject to disciplinary action and returned to closed conditions.  Possession of a mobile phone, sim card, or parts of a phone in prison is a criminal offence under the Offender Management Act 2007.

Earlier this month legislation providing new powers to block mobile phone signals in prisons progressed in the House of Lords.

The Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill has the backing of the Government and will enable Ministers across Britain to authorise governors to use technology to detect and disrupt the use of phones in prisons. This will assist in reducing the intimidation of witnesses, disrupt the supply of drugs and contraband into prison, and impede criminal activity orchestrated by prisoners from their cells.

In 2011, over seven thousand illicit phones and SIM cards were found in prisons in England and Wales.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said:

‘We are determined to address the risks posed by mobile phones in prisons and we fully support this Bill. The new technology to locate smuggled mobile devices or render them useless will play an important role in tackling illegal activity in prisons.

‘Prisons work hard to tackle the consequences of phones in prison but clearly the problem persists. This will be an invaluable tool to combat this serious issue.’

The Private Members Bill has been brought forward by Sir Paul Beresford in the House of Commons and Lord Laming in the House of Lords.

Mark Leech, the editor of the prisoners national newspaper Converse said:

“Mobile phones in prison are a menace, but we need to remember that witness intimidation and the supply of drugs into prisons has been taking place for almost 50 years, long before mobile phones were developed.

“These illicit practices will continue to happen – blocking mobile phone signals will make it harder for these things to take place, but we should not delude ourselves into thinking it will bring an end to the practices.

“Prisons are jamed packed with inventive people who have time on their hands, they specialise in finding solutions to problems, and as one door is closed they will quickly find anouther one to open in its place”

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