Prisons to install phones in cells 'to support inmate mental health'

The Scottish Prison Service will spend around £8.5m purchasing and installing the landlines into cells.

Scottish Prison Service: Prisons to spend £8.5m installing landline phones in cells for the first time Getty Images

Landline phones are to be installed in prison cells for the first time to support inmates’ contact with families, mental health and wellbeing.

The Scottish Prison Service said they will replace prison-issued mobile phones, which were introduced as a temporary measure during the Covid pandemic, when in person visits were restricted to keep people safe.

The purchasing and installation of phones across Scotland’s prisons will cost around £8.5m, the SPS said.

Chiefs said maintaining contact with friends and family, particularly children, is “crucial” for those in prison and has a positive effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

They said maintaining those relationships will help give people the best possible chance of a successful return to their communities after they leave prison.

Teresa Medhurst, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said: “This is an important milestone for the Scottish Prison Service, which has the potential to deliver tangible and enduring benefits for those in our care and their families, staff, the wider justice sector, and Scotland as a whole.

“It is an example of how the SPS is taking the lessons learned in the extremely challenging circumstances of the Covid pandemic to improve the service we provide.

“I would like to thank all those colleagues who have worked so hard to deliver this.”

The hard-wired in-cell telephones will be subject to the same security, which has governed the use of mobile phones and those in halls.

Prisoners will only be able to call numbers from a pre-approved list, and the Scottish Prison Service will maintain the ability to monitor and record calls.

In future, the cabling used for in-cell telephony will support the Scottish Prison Service’s ambitions for in-cell technology.

This will further support contact, increase educational opportunities, and give people greater agency over their own lives, from booking courses they wish to attend to selecting meal choices.

Cabinet secretary for justice and home affairs, Angela Constance, said: “The introduction of landline telephones in cells is a welcome development by the Scottish Prison Service and marks a continuation of Scottish Government investment in modernising our prison estate.

“This will help people in custody maintain contact with friends and family, including their children, which we know is crucial to their rehabilitative journey.

“It will also pave the way for in-cell education and give people in custody greater responsibility for their own lives – and will help ensure safe and stable prison environments.”

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