Prison Mobile Phones

On the surface, it is hard to understand how on Friday 16th December 2016 we could watch almost live video of prisoners rioting inside HMP Birmingham filmed by the prisoners themselves on illicit mobile phones.

1. Why are the prison authorities allowing illicit mobile phones in prisons?

2. Can nothing be done to find and remove illicit mobile phones from prisons?

There are simple answers to these questions, but ironically the simple answers are not easy to find in amongst the misleading information put out by many mobile phone detection system providers.

Lets take the questions one by one and clear up some smoke and mirrors as we go:

Why are the prison authorities allowing illicit mobile phones in prisons?

I don’t think for a moment that the prison authorities actually want prisoners to have mobile phones in prisons but the ongoing tightening of prison budgets, reduced numbers of prison officers in relation to inmate numbers, overcrowding in prisons and the ever-increasing range of ways available to smuggle illicit phones into prisons is pushing the balance heavily in the favour of the criminals. Add to this the provision of ineffective phone detection systems and equipment and you have a recipe for the “perfect storm” for the prison staff to have to deal with.

Mobile phones are now produced which are incredibly small and which can be brought into prisons hidden in body cavities, clothing or in other regular items brought into prisons. Phones can be hidden inside obscure items like chocolate bars or in clothing in ways which easily beat detection by phone detectors.

To see how effective the commonly used mobile phone detection systems are QCC conducted some testing and the results did not make happy reading for the prisons. QCC conducted testing on a range of phone detection systems all of which are aimed directly at the prison phone detection market and found than none of them worked with any consistency and most of them detected no phones at all during the test.

The types of detectors tested included mobile phone detection arches and hand held RF detectors all of which are commonly used in prisons purely to detect illicit mobile phones. The phones used to conduct the tests included iPhones and even the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which is one of the largest modern mobile phones and should therefore be pretty easy to detect.

Phone detection arches
The mobile phone detection arches tested could be defeated simply by the careful hiding of the test phones in the persons clothing prior to passing through the arch! We didn’t even need to hide a phone in a body cavity to beat the arches!

RF phone detectors
The hand held GSM RF detectors could not find any of the test phones unless they were in a call at the time of the testing so none of them were considered much use because we assumed that no one would try to smuggle a phone into a prison while they were actually on a call!

Can nothing be done to find and remove illicit mobile phones from prisons?
The fact is that the systems currently in use in prisons to detect illicit phones are largely ineffective. However, all is not lost as there is a system which can detect hidden or illicit mobile phones even when they are hidden within a body cavity. The QCC SearchLight Plus system can detect mobile phones and then be used to locate them even when they are in a passive state. When you combine SearchLight Plus with QCC’s specific Prison Mobile Phone Detection Training Course you really do have the answer to removing the unauthorised and illegal mobile phones from
prisons for good.

Using SearchLight Plus will give the prison officers the best capability available to do the job they want to do in removing mobile phones from prisons.

Contact QCC for more information.