Friday, December 3, 2021
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Coronavirus: Mobile phones plan announced for Scottish prison cells

PRISONERS inside Scotland’s jails will have access to mobile phones during the coronavirus outbreak, it is been revealed today.

The Scottish Government announced the plans with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to maintain contact with people in custody and their families during the pandemic.

It comes following the suspension of visits to help protect all those within prisons.

Security restrictions will be placed on the phones, with outgoing calls monitored and only able to dial numbers listed in existing prisoner call lists.

The phones would not be text or internet enabled or be able to receive incoming calls.

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The Scottish Governmet says work to introduce the phones is being prioritised, but a number of security, technical, and legal issues will need to be resolved before they are rolled out.

As of Friday, there are 11 individuals within the prison estate who have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are also 97 people self-isolating across 11 locations.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It is important that prisoners and their families are supported while the current prison visit restrictions are in place.

“Providing a mobile phone for prisoners to contact their families, along with a range of other actions we are taking, will help support the mental health and wellbeing of those in custody. 

“We will make sure that the use of mobile phones in prisons is done in a way which is practical and safe – for those in custody, their families, and those in the wider community.

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“The phones will be provided as soon as possible once we have resolved some outstanding issues and established the robust systems necessary to roll out and manage this new communications approach across the prison estate.”

The SPS has already taken a number of steps to mitigate the impact of the suspension of visits and other social distancing measure – including given additional phone credit to prisoners and the suspension of all TV rental fees.

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Teresa Medhurst, Interim Chief Executive of the SPS said: “COVID-19 is impacting all areas of life in Scotland, including across our prison estate.

“We have had to make difficult decisions in the last few weeks in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect those living and working our prisons.

“These decisions have undoubtedly impacted on those in custody and their families.

“The provision of phones for those in custody is a crucial way in which can help support and maintain family contact during this time of uncertainty.

“Social distancing and the need to stay indoors means that everyone is turning to technology as means of maintaining vital contact and the provision of these restricted phones allow that to happen for those in our care.

“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has announced these plans today and the SPS is working hard to ensure that these can be put in place as quickly as possible.”


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