Violent criminals have been caught using social networking sites to harass victims and their relatives from their prison cells. Other inmates have been caught running their criminal empires with the help of the internet. Prisoners are prohibited from connecting up to the internet yet manage to gain access through mobile phones that have been successfully smuggled into prisons. Over the past two years, almost 350 inmates have been found to be posting information on Facebook. Dozens of other inmates are likely to have also used the social networking site. The figures have raised concerns over the level of security in jails.
Javed Khan, Victim Support’s chief executive, claimed that the use of social networking sites by prisoners mocked the idea that criminals were being punished for their crimes, adding that Victim Support desired to see the use of the internet in prisons being more tightly regulated. Jean Taylor, of Families Fighting for Justice, stated that prisoners should not be allowed to get away with taunting their victims and told of the desire for social networking sites to be policed more closely.
Ministry of Justice statistics uncovered that 143 Facebook profiles were deleted from July 2009 to June 2010, while a further 199 were deleted from July 2010 to June 2011. The figures fail to reveal the length of time for which the pages were available before their closure. A spokesperson for the Prison Service claimed that prisoners were not granted access to the internet and that they are prohibited from updating social networking sites.
The prison law solicitors at Duncan Lewis look after prisoners’ rights.