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Cellphone calls in prisons to be blocked

The use of blocking technology to combat cellphone use in prisons was a world first, he said.

It was estimated the crackdown would cost the Government around $5 million to implement.

A joint memorandum was signed this morning between the Government, the Corrections Department, Vodafone and Telecom, to work together to combat unauthorised use of cellphones in prisons.

Confiscations of cellphones, which are banned in prisons, have skyrocketed in recent years along with the number of cases of their use to organise crime from behind bars.

The issue came to light again in the past week when it was revealed a Rimutaka Prison inmate used his cellphone to organise the importation of methamphetamine with a street value of $1 million from Thailand. Mr O’Connor said the parties had tested about 30 technological options to find the best way to stamp out cellphone use.

Jamming cellphone transmissions within prison walls was found to be the most effective, but would not suit all prisons.

Where residents were living close to prison walls, and there was a chance their cellphone coverage would be compromised by the blocking technology, other systems would be used.

“Telecom and Vodafone are concerned about the potential effects on legitimate users,” Mr O’Connor said.

Detection devices would instead be used to pick up when a cellphone was being used within a prison

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August 23, 2007 - Posted by | Cellphone, prisons

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