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Wayland report reveals prisoners’ use of ‘in-cell’ laptops and telephones

PUBLISHED: 16:31 26 October 2017

Prisoners in a Norfolk jail have been issued with secure laptops, in a move described by the prison inspectorate as an “example of good practice”.

Inmates at HMP Wayland, near Watton, are able to choose their meals and order items from the prison shop via in-cell secure netbooks.

Prisoners also have access to in-cell phones, to make it easier to stay in touch with their families.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that there are “strict controls” around the prisoners’ use of this technology.

A report on Wayland prison, published by the prison inspection service, on October 24, stated: “Access to in-cell telephones and secure laptops that eased access to administrative systems was, in our view, the way forward and an example of good practice.”

The report described prisoners as reacting positively to the newly introduced technology, which gave them “responsibility for tasks such as applications, meal choices and ordering from the prison shop, and in-cell telephones”.

Provisions are also in place for prisoners to borrow an ‘access to justice’ laptop computer.

However, the report also stated: “since the previous inspection only one prisoner had applied to use one, and this had been refused.

“There were no current plans [at the time of inspection] to put word processing software onto prisoners’ laptops, to enable them to work on their legal cases.”

A spokesperson for the MoJ said: “We have already introduced in-cell technology - with strict controls - in a number of prisons.

“We’re committed to transforming prisons into places of safety, and evidence shows that giving offenders phones in their cells - with strict security measures in place - reduces violence and lowers self-harm.

“It also frees up prison officers to spend more time on the frontline keeping prisons secure.”

The spokesperson also confirmed prisoners are not given access to the internet, and strict controls are in place to ensure the technology is not abused.

Phones are restricted to dialing certain pre-approved telephone numbers, and prisoners are not able to contact their victim(s).

HMP Wayland was established in 1985. It is a category C prison, which, at the time of inspection in June 2017, housed 951 male prisoners, 105 of whom are serving life sentences, while only two prisoners are serving sentences of less than one year.

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