PA Wire/PA Images
The government is set to spend £10m installing phones in prisoners’ cells in a bid to slash reoffending rates.
The landline phones – which allow prisoners to call a small number of pre-approved numbers – are already installed in 20 prisons in England and Wales. The latest roll-out will allow 50 prisons to have access to the system by March 2020.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said the phones, which automatically record conversations, would allow those behind bars to “build and maintain family relationships”, with prisoners able to make calls at a time which fits in with their families’ schedules.
The move follows research that showed that prisoners who receive family visits are 39% less likely to reoffend, with reoffending costing the UK £15bn each year.
It is hoped that the decision will also help to reduce rates of self-harming in prison, by providing easier access to services such as the Samaritans and MIND, as well as reducing the number of illicit mobile phones in jail.
Gauke said the addition of more in-cell phones would help turn prisons “into places of decency where offenders have a real chance to transform their lives.”
Meanwhile, prison governors will have the power to remove phones from prisoners thought to be using them for criminal activity.
PA Wire/PA Images
Prison Reform Trust director Peter Dawson called the announcement a “big step in the right direction”.
“This is very welcome news for prisoners’ families, who are very often the key to a crime free future for people leaving prison,” he said, calling on the rest of the prison estate to follow suit.
“Access to legitimate in-cell phones can reduce tension and self-harm. It also undermines the market for illegal mobile…