Online retailers should ban the sale of miniature phones designed to be smuggled into the prisons, the minister of justice has said.
David Lidington said that the devices were advertised as being able to pass unnoticed from the body orifice security scanner used in England and Wales.
“Beat the BOSS” phones can be purchased for Â£ 25, but are reportedly changing hands for up to Â£500 inside of the prisons.
About 20,000 illicit mobile phones and Sim cards were recovered by the guards in 2016.
It is estimated that up to a third of the phones found are the “beat the BOSS” phones, the Ministry of Justice, ” he says.
Some as small as a lipstick, the mini phones are available from online markets.
They are marketed as being virtually devoid of metal and therefore able to beat the detectors to anyone entering the prison must pass through.
“It is quite clear that these miniature phones are being advertised and sold with the purpose of being smuggled,” Mr Lidington said in a speech on Monday.
“I ask the online retailers, and trading sites to take products that are advertised to evade the detection of the measures in the prisons.”
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Mobile phones, which are prohibited in prison, can be used to facilitate the crime and intimidate the victims from behind bars, the Ministry of Justice, ” he says.
It says it has invested Â£2m in detection equipment, including portable detection devices that can be used to find cell phones in prisons.
It is, moreover, acquired new powers to block the phones access to communication networks.
Mini phones are listed for sale on sites like Amazon, Gumtree and eBay.
EBay said it had taken the decision to stop selling them, a few months ago, and I would like to do so that the minister of justice was aware it was “already going above and beyond” before his speech.
The firm said that it would continue to manually remove all the items that slip through.
The BBC has also contacted Amazon, and Gumtree for comment.
Analysis: By Tom Symonds, the interior corresponding
Just as those of us “outside” can’t live without our phones and, in prison, have become ubiquitous, precious goods.
They are used to organize the life of the inmates ‘ intent to continue the illegal activity, the trafficking of contraband in prisons, or in criminal proceedings in the course of outside activities.
Prison staff can listen to mobile phone calls as legitimate calls to prisoners and their families.
Mini phones such as the ones worrying the secretary for justice were among the material seized by a band recently in prison for smuggling Â£ 1 million of prohibited articles into prisons.
And there are even more prisons to eradicate because they can be hidden inside the bodies of the people – hence the need for the body orifice or a BOSS – scanner.