THE recent spate of inmates being caught with mobile phones in Goulburn Correctional Centre may be coming to an end, with a two-year trial of phone-jamming equipment to start at the prison soon.
A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently approved a two-year trial of phone-jamming equipment at the Goulburn jail.
“Mobile phones are becoming smaller and harder to detect all the time,” the spokeswoman said.
“We put a lot of effort into preventing the use of these phones by inmates, but for maximum effectiveness, jamming needs to be part of our approach.”
The spokeswoman confirmed that, in 2015/16, 81 mobiles, 60 chargers, 46 SIM cards and 29 USB sticks were seized across NSW prisons by Corrective Services staff.
This was down from the previous year (2014/15) where 114 mobiles, 121 chargers, 76 SIM cards and 18 USBs were found.
She said ACMA still needed to grant Corrective Services NSW an exemption to the law that prohibits the use of jamming technology in order for the jamming trial to take place.
“In 2013, it permitted the first trial of jamming technology at Lithgow Correctional Centre,” she said. “Following the trial’s successful conclusion, ACMA approved a second trial for Goulburn Correctional Centre.”
She said Corrective Services NSW sought expressions of interest from suitable parties for the design, installation and commissioning of a mobile phone jamming system at the Goulburn jail, as well as upgrades to the mobile phone jamming system at Lithgow Correctional Centre and the maintenance, testing and continued development of mobile phone jamming systems at both Lithgow and Goulburn.
“The expression of interest period closed on October 21 and submissions are now being assessed before selected parties will be invited to tender in late November,” she said.
“The jamming device at Lithgow uses dozens of antennas installed inside the centre to emit a signal at very low power, preventing any mobile phones inside the jail from connecting to a networked mobile phone tower.”
She was keen to reassure the community that the jail phone jammers would not block out any neighbouring residential phone services.
“The jamming is confined within the perimeter of the centre. It does not affect neighbouring properties,” she said.
“Corrective Services NSW has an agreement with the major telecommunication providers and we work closely with them to ensure the integrity of the public mobile telephone system is maintained.”