Phone shock at Kirkham Prison
More than 350 mobile phones or SIM cards were confiscated at Kirkham Prison last year - and around 2,500 since 2010.
Phones are strictly forbidden in prison, with some prisoners using them to order drugs and co-ordinate criminal activity inside and outside jail.
In the worst year, 2014, the figures at Kirkham were so high per inmate that it amounted to almost 90 phones per 100 prisoners being found and confiscated.
Kirkham has posted some of the highest figures in England and Wales for phones being discovered and seized, but this can be partly accounted for by the fact it is an open prison, with a more intentionally relaxed regime than the more secure institutions.
And the latest available figures from the prison, from 2017, do show a marked reduction from 526 phones in 2014 (89 phones per 100 prisoners) to 354 phones last year (57 per 100 prisoners).
Nevertheless, the overall figures from English and Welsh prisons, publicised by the BBC, are causing concern.
The figures come just weeks after a 25 year plumber working at the prison pleaded guilty at Blackpool magistrates’ court to giving a prisoner a phone and taking a mobile into the prison.
Kirkham’s Lancashire County and Fylde Council member, Coun Liz Oades (pictured), said: “I am shocked by these figures, because whenever I have gone into the Kirkham Prison as a visitor, we are always checked stringently for mobile phones.
“They must be getting them in some other way.”
A former prison worker from an unnamed prison, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said: “They [mobile phones] are a huge problem. It makes a joke out of the whole system.”
After the latest figures were posted, the Prison Service said improved security measures has led to more confiscations.
A spokesman said: “These statistics show that we are successfully stopping contraband from entering the prison estate.
“However, we acknowlegde that more must be done and as Minister [Rory] Stewart has previously stated, there are only five ways in which contraband can be smuggled into prisons and we are taking steps to tackle all five.
“We’ve addressed flying contraband in by tackling drones, the throwing over of items by using nets and searches, and taken action to find and block mobile phones, including a £2m investment in detection equipment.”