Issued 14 November 2014
The Liberal & Nationals Government leads the way for prisons to be phone-free zones with the phone jamming trial at Lithgow Correctional Centre continuing until October next year, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard said today.
“The Australian-first trial started in September 2013 and will inform all States and Territories’ Corrections authorities about the wider implementation of jamming technology,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Corrective Services NSW is preparing a report on the 12 month operation of the trial – in the meantime the Australian Communications and Media Authority has approved the continued use of mobile phone jamming technology at the maximum security Lithgow Correctional Centre until October 2015.
“Mobile phone use by inmates is a significant problem – it poses a threat to the security of prisons and the community as some inmates try to continue their criminal activities while locked up – phone jamming means inmates can no longer thumb their nose at the system.”
CSNSW Commissioner Peter Severin said phone jamming technology is a valuable tool for combating contraband and has been used in other countries including the United States and New Zealand.
“The illegal use of mobile phones in prisons is an issue around the world - one of the best ways to stop them being smuggled in is to use technology to make a phone in prison useless,” Mr Severin said.
It is part of a range of deterrence measures used to tackle contraband in prisons across NSW.
Last year CSNSW Security Operations Group and sniffer dogs conducted more than 91,000 searches inside prisons resulting in a 440 per cent increase in mobile phone seizures - from 39 phones/accessories in 2009 to 211 in 2013.
The jamming device uses dozens of antennas installed inside Lithgow Correctional Centre to emit a signal at very low power, preventing mobiles inside the jail from connecting to a networked mobile phone tower. The signal does not extend beyond the jail’s boundaries and does not affect phone users in the community.
“The community can have confidence that the NSW Government is keeping inmates away from contraband crime using the best of technology and manpower,” Mr Hazzard said.