Key fob mobile phones a hit inside jails

Mobile phones designed to look like car key fobs are being used by prisoners to keep in contact with the outside world as the number confiscated by authorities continues to rise.

The tiny mobile phone measures in at around 8cm x 3cm x 2cm, is manufactured in China and advertised online as a “fun item”. It costs just £40 and does everything that a basic mobile phone can do including sending and receiving SMS messages and phone calls.

Most of the devices are sold on eBay’s range of worldwide sites and the page for one explains the specification in further detail. It’s a quad-band GSM phone, meaning it works all over the world, has GPRS internet with Java enabled, bluetooth, FM radio, support for a microSD card, MP3 and video players, two to three hours talk time and a standby time of 48-72 hours.

Prisoners are smuggling the phones into jails as they are very small and, according to The Times, have a “very very very low metal content”, thus meaning they don’t set off some metal detectors.

To try and combat the problem, prison guards are carrying out “robust” searches and have introduced new orifice scanners that are designed to find even the smallest of hidden devices by X-raying inmates.

Anyone that is found owning and using a mobile phone within the confines of a prison will be given a two-year jail sentence and last year 7,000 handsets and SIM cards were taken from prisoners in England and Wales.

The sheer amount of phones being confiscated is presenting prison wardens with a further problem as the law states that devices must be kept in storage and not destroyed. It’s meant the prison service now has 70,000 handsets in storage that costs £20,000 per year, something that was branded as “totally unacceptable” by Jeremy Wright, the prisons minister.

Image Credit: Flickr (46137)

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