People in Scottish prisons may soon have access to secure mobile phones and tablets to contact their families

Date: 1st May 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Family Environment and Alternative Care, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities

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The Scottish Government and the Scottish Prison Service have announced plans to give people in Scottish prisons access to secure mobile phones and tablets to facilitate contact with their families.

With prison visits suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the means to connect with family members virtually is welcomed by Together and our members. This can relieve the concerns from family members about the wellbeing of their loved ones.

Together is also happy to hear that the Scottish Prison Service has taken steps to provide additional phone credit to all people in prison,  suspend all TV rental fees and expand in-cell entertainment options, facilitate the “email a prisoner” scheme, and are also working with Families Outside to support families affected by the impact of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Together hopes to see access to secure mobile phones within prisons remain, as this can maintain the right to family life as children in detention or with a parent in detention can maintain family contact. Additionally, mobile phones can aid access to emotional support services such as the Samaritans and MIND.

*Update*

In response to a letter sent by the Justice Committee, Scottish Prison Service wrote on the 20th October 2020:

"Restricted mobile phones have now been issued to all those in SPS care across every site in Scotland, with the exception of HMP Kilmarnock who have independently installed wired telephones into every cell. Mobile phones were issued to every person in custody at HMP & YOI Polmont from 15 July 2020.

SPS continues to install mobile phone infrastructure across the estate to provide an assured mobile telephony service...The original proposal for a pilot of in-cell telephony at HMP & YOI Polmont has consequently been cancelled due to the introduction of restricted mobile phones. The funding previously set aside for the pilot has been utilised within the wider national project."

  • Read the letter in full here