419 phones discovered in Doncaster jail

HMP & YOI Doncaster, Marshgate, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley
HMP & YOI Doncaster, Marshgate, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley

More than 400 mobile phones or SIM cards were found in Doncaster Prison in just one year, government figures have revealed.

Only Kirkham Prison in Lancashire and Altcourse Prison in Merseyside had more of the devices found in their jail premises, according to the the statistics revealed in Parliament.

Mobile phones have no place in our prisons and we have invested in technology to prevent their use

Alan Brown, Serco’s Contract Director at HMP &YOI Doncaster

For the most recent year for which figures were available, 2014, some 419 phones were found in Doncaster, a rise from 182 in 2013 and from just 24 in 2011.

There were 646 found over a five-year period.

Staff at Hatfield Prison, also in Doncaster, found 104 phones or SIM cards, and 422 over five years. Staff at Lindholme found 70, and 538 over five years, while Moorland found 52 phones in 2014, and 261 over five years.

The figures had been requested by shadow justice minister Andrew Slaughter,.

Andrew Selous, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said: “Mobile phones have no place in our prisons and we have invested in technology to prevent their use. But more needs to be done, and we will look at new ways of finding and blocking them. It is a criminal offence to possess a mobile phone or component part in a prison. The Chancellor announced in the spending review that we will invest in more safety improvements to stamp out the organisation of crime from within prisons, including funding for tackling illicit mobile phones and investing in body scanners.”

He said the information released provided the number of ‘finds’ of mobile phones and/or SIM cards reported by each prison between April 2010, when recording started, and December 2014.

One ‘find’ may constitute a handset containing one SIM card or media card, a handset only, or a SIM card only.

Officials at Serco, the private operator which runs Doncaster Prison, at Marshgate, believe the figures show success rather than failure as officers are finding more phones and SIM cards rather than the items remaining undetected.

Alan Brown, Serco’s Contract Director at HMP &YOI Doncaster, said: “The increasing number of phones discovered by our staff at Doncaster is testament to the success of our team in finding this contraband.

“Mobile phones are not allowed in the prison under any circumstances and we take a zero tolerance approach to this issue. Anyone found with a phone in the prison will be prosecuted.”