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Phone found hidden in prisoner’s hair as jail cracks down on mobiles

The device was one of scores found by officers at HMP Rochester, where detector poles have been introduced to help stem the flow of illicit handsets.

Jail staff discovered a mobile phone hidden in a prisoner’s hair, a report has revealed.

The device was one of scores found at HMP Rochester, which is using specialist equipment to help identify illicit handsets and other banned items.

In its 2017/18 annual report, the Kent jail’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said the introduction of  “detector poles” has proved a useful tool in curtailing the use of mobiles.

“There are now three detector poles in place in visits, reception and segregation which are proving successful in locating mobile phones secreted on a prisoner’s body,” the report said.

“For example a phone was found hidden within a prisoner’s hair.”

No further details of the discovery were given in the report.

The IMB flagged up the “openness” of the Rochester site, saying drugs and mobile phones mainly enter via packages coming over the walls.

Security personnel estimate that they are intercepting around half of all items thrown into the prison, a category C facility for male inmates.

Finds of mobile phones and illicit substances at the jail remained steady year-on-year, with 211 and 159 seized respectively in the latest period.

There was a “significant increase” in the number of weapons found, from 57 to 85, the report said.

Prisons across England and Wales are locked in a battle to stop inmates getting their hands on mobiles.

Ministers have warned they can be used to facilitate more crime and intimidate victims from behind bars.

Earlier this year, Justice Secretary David Gauke detailed how spice and other drugs are ordered on tiny mobile phones and delivered direct to cell windows.

In the 12 months to March 2018 there were 10,643 incidents where mobile phones were found in prisons – an increase of 15% compared with the previous year.

In its overall conclusion, the IMB said HMP Rochester is well run and prisoners are treated fairly, but warned that drug abuse is “extensive”.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “We are tackling illicit mobile phones and recently announced £8 million more for prison security.

“This is on top of increasing the number of sniffer dogs, rolling out body scanners and investing £2 million in handheld and portable detection devices.”

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