Bluetooth trainer amongst items seized from prisoners at Saughton and Addiewell last year

Seizures of weapons have risen four-fold since 2017

Monday, 10th February 2020, 11:45 am
Phones and weapons were seized from prisoners at HMP Edinburgh in Saughton.

A mobile phone is seized once every five days while weapons are being recovered once every four days from Edinburgh’s main prison and the problem is getting worse, new figures show

Prisoners at Saughton were caught with a weapon 90 times in 2019 and with a mobile phone 67 times, while those in Addiewell were caught less than a third of the time with a weapon but saw 65 seizures of a mobile phone.

One prisoner in Addiewell was even caught with a bluetooth trainer or ‘smart sneaker’, some models of which include speakers or track how an individual runs to be fed back to an app.

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Bluetooth devices can also be used to circumvent signal jamming technology in prisons, allowing prisoners to activate and use mobile phones more easily.

There are also potential issues around tracking and communication through the use of bluetooth enabled items within prisons.

Weapon seizures jump four-fold

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said that the number of items found was down to the professionalism of staff alongside advances in technology and new methods to catch contraband being used.

The shadow justice secretary for the Scottish Conservatives, Liam Kerr, criticised the government for not supporting the prison service enough.

Weapon seizures have jumped by nearly four-fold from 23 incidents in 2017 to 90 last year, while mobile phone seizures have trebled since 2018.

Other items seized from prisoners included medication, tobacco and tobacco paraphernalia, while prisoners were caught with alcohol twice in Saughton last year.

'Prison Service not getting the support it needs'

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “People will be astonished at how easy it appears to be to smuggle illicit items into prisons.

“I’ve visited prisons and seen first-hand just how seriously prison officers take this and how determined they are to stop it.

“But clearly the Scottish Prison Service is not getting the support it needs from this SNP government.

“That’s having a detrimental impact on hard-working staff, who are already under huge strain when it comes to dealing with inmates.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “The possession of a mobile phone in prison is a criminal offence.

“If we receive information to suggest that prisoners are in possession of such devices we will take all appropriate action and report it to the relevant authorities.

“A comprehensive range of robust security measures are in place to prevent the introduction of contraband into our prisons. Significant investment continues to be made in the development of new technology and staff training to detect, deter and reduce the availability and supply of illicit items.”