AUSTRALIA’S first trial of mobile phone jamming in a prison began yesterday in a major security initiative to shut down illicit phone use by inmates.
Justice Minister Greg Smith and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin activated the phone jamming technology at Lithgow Correctional Centre, launching a nine-month trial on behalf of prison authorities across Australia.
The results of the trial could lead to deployment of the mobile phone jammers across the state, including at the Bathurst Correctional Centre.
“It is an important step forward for corrections in Australia as we combat illicit phone use in prisons, which has become a significant concern for jurisdictions around the world,” Mr Smith said.
“Mobile phone possession in NSW prisons is a crime. Mobile phones pose a threat to the security of correctional centres and community safety as they are often used to facilitate crime outside prison walls.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has granted Corrective Sservices NSW (CSNSW) an exemption from Australia’s Radiocommunications Act 1992, which makes it an offence to operate, supply or possess jamming devices, so the trial can proceed.
Mr Severin said the jamming technology adds to a combination of measures CSNSW already uses to combat contraband phones, including security screening, intelligence gathering and random and targeted searches by officers and K9s, including mobile phone sniffer dogs.
“In the past five years we have significantly stepped up efforts to seize and detect mobile phones in our centres and have removed hundreds of mobile phones and accessories from circulation - however inmates continue to try new and devious ways to obtain them.”
“We believe this jamming technology is the ultimate answer because even if an inmate does obtain a mobile phone, it will be worthless because it won’t work.”