Prisoners given in-cell phones and screens

National Audit Office report reveals new prisons in England and Wales are also being built with in-cell facilities such as screened showers and toilets

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The Independent Online

New state of the art prisons are being fitted with in-cell telephones, with one featuring electronic terminals to allow inmates to order food and book activities a National Audit Office report has revealed today.

New prisons being built in England and Wales by the National Offender Management Service also feature “integrated screen toilets” and most (90 per cent) have integrated showers, the report revealed.

The NAO report, which examined Government spending on prisons, said in-cell telephones helped prisoners to maintain key family relationships, which in turn aided successful rehabilitation.

Inmates in prisons with in-cell phones are required to give authorities the names and contact details of the people they want to call so all phone calls can be approved, and they are not permitted to receive incoming calls, The Times reported.

The report added that electronic terminals at Serco run Thameside prison in southeast London are used by inmates to choose food from the menu, book appointments and select activities.

The watchdog said in-cell facilities, such as being able to use the phone and access a shower, reduced the number of officers needed to monitor queues for the phone or unlock cells to give access to communal showers.

The report said: “Some new cells contain telephones (the use of which is controlled and may be monitored by prison staff) and, at HMP Thameside, terminals to book activities and order meal.”

“In-cell telephones, as well as allowing prisoners to maintain family contact (important for successful rehabilitation), also contribute to prisoner safety,” it added.

“Other modern design features that improve prisoners’ safety include removing permanent ligature points from cells and better fire detection systems. Removing the need to unlock prisoners to wash helps to reduce staff costs.”