Breakdown of items confiscated from Prisoners at Holme House by 3u8736Qa


									Our Reference: FOI 74598                                                   February 2012

                              Freedom of Information Request

You asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

      1. I would like a break-down of items confiscated from prisoners at Holme
         House Prison, in Stockton, for the calendar year 2011.

Mobile Phones Confiscated from Prisoners

Section 12 of the FOIA makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for
information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit,
which for central government is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of
one person spending 3.5 working days in determining whether the Department holds
the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

It may be helpful if I explain that the range of data you request is not held centrally. In
order to answer these questions, it would be necessary to undertake a manual trawl
of all prison records in order to identify and provide this information and that is why it
would exceed the appropriate cost limit. This applies to the mobile phones being
confiscated from prisoners.

You may wish to narrow the scope of your request in order to try and bring it within
the cost limit by being more specific about which information you wish to receive,
including any dates or periods of time which are relevant; for example, by reducing
the timeframe to one month for one establishment.

Cost limits may still be engaged, however, each case will be dealt with in accordance
with the FOIA. However, on a discretionary basis, outside the scope of the Act, you
may be interested to know that NOMS has been working to improve data collection
procedures in relation to certain specific areas. This includes, in respect of this reply,
illicit drugs and mobile phones.

Specifically, since April 2010, prisons have been asked to send all unauthorised
phones and SIM cards found to a central unit for analysis, or to notify the unit if an
unauthorised phone or SIM card has been found but not sent for analysis. A Prison
Service Instruction was published in April 2011 which makes these actions


      Between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011 inclusive, our central unit
       recorded 17 “finds” of mobile phones and SIM cards from HMP Holme House.
       One “find” may constitute a handset containing one SIM card or media card, a
       handset only, or a SIM card only.

Please note that NOMS believe these figures may understate the actual number of
finds, because prisons did not always notify our central unit when unauthorised
mobile phones and SIM cards were found or send these items for analysis prior to
the publication of the Prison Service Instruction in April 2011. For this reason, the
figures are provided on a discretionary basis outside the scope of the FOIA. Clearly
the scope of your question goes much broader as the range of seized items is
considerably more extensive than just mobile phones and SIM cards

All figures provided in this letter have been drawn from live administrative data
systems which may be amended at any time. Although care is taken when
processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the
inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. The data are not subject
to audit.

The presence of illicit mobile phones in prisons presents serious risks both to the
security of prisons and to the safety of the public. Mobile phones are used for a range
of criminal purposes, including commissioning serious violence, harassing victims
and continuing involvement in extremist networks, organised crime and gang activity.
Access to mobile phones is also strongly associated with drug use, violence and

NOMS is determined to address the risks that mobile phones present to security and
to the safety of the public.

We have implemented a strategy to minimise the number of mobile phones entering
prisons, to find phones that do get in and to disrupt mobile phones that cannot be
The Offender Management Act 2007 made it a criminal offence to convey specific
items, including mobile phones and associated equipment into or out of a prison or to
transmit sounds or images from within a prison. The Crime and Security Act 2010 will
also make it an offence, with a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment and/or an
unlimited fine, to possess an unauthorised mobile phone or other electronic
equipment or component element that can receive or transmit information
electronically within a prison.

Effective intelligence gathering and robust local security and searching strategies are
key to addressing the risks. A range of technology has been rolled out to prisons to
strengthen searching and security, including portable mobile phone signal detectors,
Body Orifice Security Scanners (BOSS chairs) and high sensitivity metal detecting
wands which can detect internally concealed items such as mobile phones.

We are trialling a range of signal denial technology in a number of establishments.
However, denying signals in prisons is not a quick, simple or cheap option. It is highly
technically challenging, given the nature of the different fabric and layouts of prisons
and the need to identify technology that is effective at denying signals within prisons
without adversely affecting signals outside the prison. There is therefore no off-the-
shelf solution and bespoke technology must be procured. We must also of course
meet health and safety and regulatory requirements. NOMS is working closely with
partners across government to evaluate possible technologies.

Other Items Confiscated

The information provided below is given on a discretionary basis outside of the act.

Table 2: Shows a breakdown of items confiscated from prisoners in HMP
Holme House from 1 January 2011 until 31 December 2011

                       Drug                      Total
                 Cannabis                         14
                 Cocaine                           6
                 Tranquilisers                     1
                 Other                            53

These figures have been drawn from live administrative data systems which may be amended
at any time. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail
collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system


Prisons deploy a robust and comprehensive range of security measures to reduce
drug supply – including:
     Passive search dogs, which are available in all prisons, to detect visitors
       carrying drugs. And active search dogs, used to search goods and vehicles.
       strict measures to tackle visitors who smuggle or attempt to smuggle drugs,
       including – on suspicion of smuggling – ‘closed’ visits (i.e. through a glass
       screen) or visit bans, and arrest and prosecution where there is sufficient
     The criminal process is invoked against visitors and prisoners alike wherever
       sufficient evidence exists of an attempt to supply. A range of internal
       sanctions exists for prisoners caught using drugs;
     CCTV surveillance in most social visits areas and low-level furniture in social
       visits areas in all Category C prisons and above, to make it more difficult to
       pass drugs;
     Effective intelligence systems, targeting those trafficking drugs;
     Close working with the police to target serious criminals outside prison who
       are increasingly involved in supply. Each prison has access to a police
       liaison officer;
     Supply Reduction Good Practice Guide used by all prisons to improve
     Deployment of technology and strategies to detect and disrupt mobile
       phones, and analysis of recovered handsets and SIM cards a comprehensive
       programme of mandatory drug testing for prisoners and disciplinary sanctions
       for those testing positive.


Since 2004, a national strategy has directed every public sector prison to have in
place a local violence reduction strategy. From mid-2007 this policy has been
applied to both the public sector and contracted estate. The strategy requires each
prison to undertake regular analysis of the problem areas, consider solutions and
provide an action plan to improve personal safety and reduce violence. A whole
prison approach is encouraged, engaging all staff, all disciplines and prisoners in
challenging unacceptable behaviour, problem-solving and personal safety. This
includes environmental and physical measures, as well as alternative ways of
managing behaviour.

Homebrew Alcohol

There is comparatively little illicit use of alcohol in closed prisons; although
periodically hooch is found (illicitly distilled liquor concocted from a mixture of
ingredients such as fruit and sugar that can be fermented to produce alcohol).

Section 16B of the Prison Act 1952 (inserted by the Prisons Alcohol Testing Act
1997) gives prison officers, provided an authorisation is in force, the power to require
any prisoner to provide a sample of breath (and/or urine sample) for the purpose of
testing for the presence of alcohol. The Rules enable prisons to require a prisoner
to provide a sample of breath and to discipline prisoners accordingly. Failure to
provide a sample of breath is an offence against Prison Rules. Prison Rules to
support this were enacted in 2005.

The number of finds reported for the requested period may change should further
incidents be reported to NOMS.


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