USE of illegal mobile phones in a prison has risen threefold, increasing calls for new legal powers to fight their use.

Research by the BBC Data Unit has revealed a 300 per cent increase in mobile phones found in Lewes Prison between 2011 and 2017.

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, whose Bill to empower prisons to block mobile phone signals in prisons across England is working its way through the Commons, said the figures showed the new law was desperately needed.

The data shows an alarming increase in the rates at which mobile phones are being found in prisons.

At Doncaster Prison the amount of mobile phone finds between 2011 and 2017 increased by 3,350 per cent.

Other prisons with high increases in finds include Portland (2200 per cent), Risley (1500 per cent) and Glenn Parva (1500 per cent).

Lewes Prison has seen an increase in mobile phone finds of 300 per cent.

The rate of mobile phone discoveries per 100 prisoners in Lewes Prison is now 31.48.

Ms Caulfield said prison officers and staff do an excellent job finding mobile phones but it is clear prisoners are attempting to smuggle more mobile phones into prisons and it is impossible to stop all of them from getting through checks.

Her Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill will give mobile phone operators the powers to block mobile phone signals to prisons across England, meaning that even if mobile phones make it into prisons they will be useless at contacting the outside world.

The Bill passed its Committee Stage at the House of Commons earlier this month and will return to the House of Commons for the Report Stage on June 6.

Ms Caulfield said “This data proves why my Bill to block mobile phone signals in prisons is so desperately needed.

“The sheer number of mobile phones being smuggled into prisons is mind blowing and if this many are found there must be many that go undetected.

“My Bill will render all illegal mobile phone in prisons useless as a tool to interact with the outside world, helping both prison staff and victims of crime in the community.”

Being in possession of a mobile phone in prison is illegal and carries a possible two-year prison sentence but with thousands of deliveries and visitors coming and going through prisons each day it is incredibly difficult to find all of them.

The new powers would render a mobile phone useless within the walls of all prisons in England.

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