HomeNewsPOLL: Should Sturgeon resign after prisoners use ‘unhackable’ phones to buy drugs? VOTE
POLL: Should Sturgeon resign after prisoners use ‘unhackable’ phones to buy drugs? VOTE
September 14, 2021
Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland ‘must resist’ Westminster control
The Scottish government spent £3million of taxpayers money on mobile phones that it claimed were “unhackable” in June to allow prisoners to stay in touch with loved ones during lockdowns. But prison officers say that approximately a third of the devices have been tampered with and have been used for drug deals and other criminal activity.
John McTavish, Prison Officer at HMP Barlinnie told ITV News: “You give a prisoner a phone, and they’re very, very ingenious.
“If they put their mind to something, they can do anything at all. Within hours, the tamper proof was gone.
“I checked the phones in one of the halls here in March time, and of the 300 prisoners that were there, it was probably about 100 phones tampered with altogether.”
According to the Scottish Prison Service, at least 728 phones have been found to operate with illegal SIM cards since August 2020, making it far easier for prisoners to communicate with the outside world undercover.
The drugs bought with the prison phones have often been thrown over prison walls, but other methods include soaking letters in drugs that the prisoner can later dissolve in water and drink.
These covert methods of smuggling are becoming more ingenious and harder to expose, according to prison guards, and the decision made by prison bosses and the Scottish government to gift the inmates with phones has made the job of preventing drug abuse even harder.
Nicola Sturgeon’s latest scandal highlights the depth of the drug crisis in Scotland (Image: Getty)
The phone scandal comes at a time when Scotland has the worst drug addiction rates in Europe, with more deaths caused by drugs per capita than any other country.
In fact, Scotland’s drug deaths have hit a record high for the seventh year in a row, with a total of 1339 people losing their lives to drugs in 2020.
In 2019, the Scottish Prisoner Survey found that 45 percent of prisoners reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their offence, and four in ten prisoners said they had used illegal drugs at some point while in prison.
Prison officers have reported that the drug crisis is now “worse than ever before”.
Since 2015, drug use and drug deaths have more than doubled and critics of Ms Sturgeon say that her failure to tackle the emergency, since she came to power in 2014, has led to a human crisis that is spiralling out of control.
In August, Scottish Conservative Meghan Gallacher called on the SNP government to take urgent action as the numbers of those dying has “spiralled” since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister.
Ms Gallacher said: “These statistics are truly horrifying and heart-breaking.
“We need to see the SNP Government take urgent action now.”
She added: “The system is broken, and drug deaths have skyrocketed in recent years.”