The misuse of drugs in prison drives violence, vulnerability and crime and so tackling this is one of our top priorities. We do not have statistics to demonstrate a causal link between illicit phones and drug misuse but we know that illicit mobile phones can be used for a variety of harmful purposes by criminals in prison, including to organise the supply of drugs. The use of mobile phones in prisons is an important cog in the infrastructure that supports and fuels crime and violence. Consequently, we are improving our security to restrict the availability of both drugs and mobile phones. We use body, property, cell and area searches, metal-detecting scanners and drug and phone detection dogs across the estate. We have recently invested an additional £7 million in modern technology, including extending the use of phone blocking technology and improved searching techniques. We are also investing £6 million to tackle drug supply and reduce demand in 10 of the most challenging prisons, with body scanners and more staff focused on effective searching.
To reduce the demand for illicit mobile phones, we are also expanding the roll-out of in-cell telephones. Currently, 20 public sector prisons have in-cell phones. We are now investing a further £10 million to roll-out in-cell phones to a further 30 prisons by March 2020. Calls can only be made to pre-agreed numbers and can be monitored, with governors able to remove phones from those who misuse them. We know that maintaining prisoners’ family ties is hugely important too, with prisoners who receive contact from their family while in prison 39% less likely to reoffend. This will enable prisoners to maintain relationships with their family and access talking support services, in a managed and secure way, while we continue to take action to restrict the supply of illicit phones.