Opinion column – Knight’s Days with Sir Greg Knight

Around 20,000 mobile phones were confiscated in prisons last year.
Around 20,000 mobile phones were confiscated in prisons last year.

Parliament has rightly decreed that mobile phones are illegal in prisons and any prisoner possessing one faces a maximum period of up to five years in jail in addition to any sentence already being served.

Sadly, this has not deterred the smuggling of phones into prisons and a whopping 20,000 of them were confiscated last year.

Alarmingly, prisoners are using them for a range of illegal activities, such as smuggling drugs, intimidating witnesses and, in some case, continuing to operate criminal activities from behind bars.

The blame for this cannot be laid at the door of prison officers.

They already have a difficult job as in a single day a prison can be obliged to process 50 or more new prisoners, 300 visitors and 3,000 items of post. With this level of activity, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure that mobile phones are never smuggled into jail.

So Parliament is intervening and MPs are to debate a new law which will give the Government the power to block mobile and data signals to phones that are situated in prisons.

Some prisoners may be using illegal mobile phones for understandable reasons, such as to contact loved ones, but part of the punishment of a prison sentence should be that certain rights available to the community at large are forfeited.

The Bill is scheduled for further debate but the sooner it becomes law the better.

Latest figures show that the population of African elephants is down by 140,000 since 2007.

Most of the decline has been brought about by poaching and seizures of smuggled ivory confirm this.

Although international trade in ivory is illegal, some countries permit internal sales and do not enquire too closely about where the tusks contributing to those sales have come from.

China for many years has been the world’s largest ivory market but, at last a breakthrough.

Starting in 2018, any sale of ivory in China will be illegal and existing ivory dealers will have their licences revoked.

Well done China!

The world over, we need to stop those who would buy trinkets made from elephant tusks if we are to save this magnificent animal from extinction.