Digicel to fast-track blocking cell phones in prisons

(Jamaica Gleaner) – Telecommunications company Digicel has said it has expedited a process to come up with a solution for the installation of mobile phone-jamming equipment in prisons, confirming a report that it was reprimanded by National Security Minister Robert Montague for taking too long to complete the process.

Government insiders had told The Gleaner that Digicel officials, including Chief Executive Officer David Butler, were called to a meeting by Montague at his St Andrew offices on Thursday, where he registered his concerns about the issue which has national security implications.

The Gleaner reported on Friday that a source informed our newsroom that the issues were identified five months ago and that the company later acquired the technology to address the concerns but failed to implement it.

In a statement following that report, Butler noted that at Thursday’s meeting, Montague “expressed a desire to move forward with telecoms providers to deploy mobile phone-jamming equipment in prisons as part of a strategy to mitigate organised crime”.

He said: “Out of good corporate citizenship, Digicel gave its commitment to continue discussions with equipment providers and local telecoms partners in order to come up with the most appropriate industry solution.

Explaining the delay, Butler said: “Due to the variety of technical options, it took us longer than usual to complete the process.

We have expedited the process and expect to be in a position to properly advise the minister on a solution by next week.

Digicel insisted that “there are no national security concerns in relation to our licence obligations”.

The authorities have been struggling to stamp out the use of phones behind bars which, they believe, allow some inmates to influence criminal activities within the society.

In 2003, the government purchased $8.5 million worth of cellular phone signal jammers to bar outgoing calls at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre.

It was rendered useless less than three years after its installation.

In 2015, The Gleaner reported on prisoners using smartphones to access social media sites such as Facebook, where they shared regular updates on happenings behind bars with the world outside.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Judge sentences teen to life in prison for manslaughter

  2. Police probing report of plot against President – Harmon

  3. Essequibo mother of five charged with trying to kill husband

  4. Nurse who complained about APNU+AFC councillor transferred with immediate effect

  5. Two years jail for Ed Ahmad

  6. Gov’t unlikely to make cash payments to citizens from oil wealth – Trotman

  7. Woman found dead in George Street hotel

  8. Bath Settlement teen dies after motorcycle accident

  9. No reason for apology to judge, AG tells president


Recommended For You