Taxpayers have forked out $17 million on cellphone jamming technology for prisons – but inmates continue to be caught with increasing numbers of contraband mobile phones.
Despite a network blocking system designed to stop Mt Eden prisoners using cellphones footage of a ‘fight club’ found its way out of the Auckland jail and on to social media.
Serco confirmed a cellphone was found during a full search of Mt Eden prison on Monday.
Corrections found 284 of the banned devices in the country’s prisons in the 2013-14 financial year.
The previous financial year the department found 274 cellphones unlawfully held by prisoners or brought in by visitors. It also confiscated 119 phone batteries – 128 chargers and 151 SIM cards.
Corrections’ cellphone jamming system cost a budget-blowing $10.9m to install between 2007 and 2009. It budgeted $5.7m and nearly $6.7m has been spent since, including almost $2.3m in the first five months of last year on a systems upgrade. That followed a $1.3m spruce-up in 2011, according to records released under the Official Information Act.
Yet it does not seemed to have curbed prisoners’ efforts to smuggle them in – and they would not bother if the phones didn’t work – prison drug and alcohol counsellor Roger Brooking said.
(ed:..well that was twenty-something million well spent..eh..?..)