Officials in Spanish prisons have seized a total of 2,733 mobile phones, marking a 21% increase from the confiscations in 2021.
Trade unions have explained to El Mundo that mobile phones are prohibited items within prisons to prevent ongoing criminal activities, including organised gangs or gender-based violence. This prohibition makes mobile phones highly sought-after commodities among prisoners, leading to a black market fraught with regulatory issues.
Penitentiary workers combatting illicit trade
The Acaip UGT union has highlighted the work public penitentiary employees carry out to combat the illicit trade of these banned items. “Prison workers expend significant efforts in confiscating these items, most of which are easily concealed due to their small size and can evade metal detectors as their components are made of plastic,” they warned.
The phones can be found in the most unsuspecting places, necessitating thorough searches of the modules, which in turn require adequate staffing and specialised training.
Staff shortages and challenges in enforcement
Acaip-UGT reminds us that there are over 3,000 penitentiary staff vacancies at the national level. “Additionally, the staffing allocation in the centres does not correspond with the actual needs, making it nearly impossible to perform all the functions entrusted to each of the public penitentiary employees,” they pointed out.
The methods of smuggling these devices into prisons vary greatly, but in recent years the use of drones to introduce large smartphones has been detected.
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