Thousands of mobile phones were discovered in prisons last year leading to claims that criminals could stalk victims and run criminal empires from jail.
Prisons Minister Andrew Selous revealed that 7,451 mobile phones or sim cards were found in jails in 2013, up from 6,756 in 2010 and 7,301 in 2012.
Mr Selous, who revealed the figures in a written parliamentary answer to Labour’s Jim Cunningham (Coventry South), said the increase showed that the Government was fulfilling a promise to crack down on the use of mobile phones in prison.
But shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan claimed the figures showed the problem was getting worse and could lead to offenders continuing their criminal activities from behind bars.
Mr Khan said: “(Justice Secretary) Chris Grayling promised to sort the problem of mobile phones in prisons, instead it’s getting worse.
“Criminals behind bars with access to mobile phones can carry on running their criminal empires and can harass and stalk their victims.
“It is totally unacceptable, and instead of simply seeking headlines David Cameron needs to get a grip and sort out this issue.”
It is a criminal offence to use an unauthorised mobile phone in jail and Mr Selous said the prison system is getting to grips with the problem.
The Tory minister said: “This Government is clamping down on the use of mobile phones in prisons, and seizures have increased.
“Prisons use a comprehensive range of robust searching and security measures to detect items of contraband such intelligence-led searches, body searches, use of x-ray machines, metal detectors and CCTV surveillance cameras, as well as body orifice scanners.”
In one prison alone, Kirkham in Lancashire, 488 phones were found in 2013.
Meanwhile just seven prisons accounted for over a quarter of all mobile phone finds in England and Wales – Kirkham, Altcourse in Merseyside (290), Standford Hill in Kent (270), Ranby in Nottinghamshire (229), The Mount in Hertfordshire (220), Highpoint in Suffolk (203) and Ford in West Sussex (202).