Hundreds of mobiles confiscated at Peterhead's HMP and YOI Grampian over hacking fears
Hundreds of prisoners in Peterhead had their mobile phones confiscated during the pandemic over hacking fears.
Some 343 confiscations took place at HMP and YOI Grampian since the introduction of the scheme which was designed to enable prisoners to keep in touch with their famlies.
The handsets were given to inmates after Covid-19 forced prison authorities to stop visits from loved ones.
But some prisoners quickly found they could replace the SIM cards and use them for drug deals and other criminal activity.
North-east Conservative MSP Tess White obtained the figures which showed that at its peak, at least one mobile phone was being confiscated every day at HMP and YOI Grampian.
Ms White said: “The SNP said these phones were tamper-proof, but it took very little time for that to be proved wrong.
“They have allowed bullying and extortion to go on in the North-east’s largest prison, as well as its young offenders unit, and it has been left to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to try to clean up their mess.
“Scottish Conservatives warned this would happen, but our concerns were dismissed out of hand by the SNP.”
Ms White previously asked Justice Secretary Keith Brown what discussions he had with the SPS about this tampering.
He referred the matter to SPS interim chief executive Teresa Medhurst, who responded: “Whilst this is primarily an operational matter for the SPS, the SPS and Scottish Government have been in communication regarding the reported tampering of mobile phones used by individuals in custody.”
She added: “A solution was identified with the provider in relation to the concern of illicit SIM cards being used in prison-issued mobile phones, and it is currently being implemented across the prison estate.
“This solution enables the SPS to blacklist handsets on various network providers rendering the handsets unusable with a non-prison issued SIM.
“The security measures in place will continue to be monitored by the SPS.”