Hundreds of mobile phones and SIM cards have been confiscated from prisons across West Yorkshire.
The YEP can reveal that more than 400 mobiles and memory cards have been found in five of West Yorkshire’s prisons and Young Offender’s Institutions over the last two years.
Phones behind bars allow prisoners to harass victims, organise and communicate with gangs and deal drugs on the outside.
Mobile phones, SIM cards and memory cards are banned inside prisons but hundreds of phones and cards have been discovered during routine searches of the county’s jails.
At least 300 phones and SIM cards have been discovered during searches at Category C HMP Wealstun in Thorp Arch, near Wetherby, from September 2010 to September 2012.
A further 104 devices and SIM cards were found at HMP Leeds and seven were discovered at the Young Offender’s Institution in Wetherby.
Six phones or memory cards were found at Wakefield Prison and one mobile phone or memory card was seized at HMP New Hall over two years.
Mobiles, SIM cards and memory cards could have been found on prisoners or seized during searches.
Prisoners can be given up to two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine if they are discovered in possession of a mobile phone or SIM card.
It is an offence to possess a mobile phone or similar device in prison without permission.
A spokesman from the National Offender Management Service said: “NOMS remains committed to addressing the risks that mobile phones present to security and to the safety of the public.
“We operate a strategy designed to minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons, to find phones that do get in and to disrupt mobile phones that cannot be found.
“Effective intelligence gathering and robust local security and searching strategies are key to addressing the risks. “
Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew proposed a new law yesterday allowing jail chiefs to destroy or sell phones and give profits to victims’ groups.
He said: “Currently there is nothing in law giving any powers to governors to destroy property that prisoners should not have. As a result, astonishingly, any items seized have to be stored by governors and kept in safe-keeping for the duration of the prisoner’s term.”