NSW prisons to trial mobile phone jamming

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NSW prisons to trial mobile phone jamming

The NSW Department of Corrective Services is seeking an exemption from ACMA regulations to conduct a trial of mobile phone signal jamming technology inside NSW prisons.

The request was made as a response to the discovery last week of two mobile phones in the cells of convicted gang rapist brothers Bilal and Mohammed Skaf inside Goulburn's Supermax prison.

The Department of Corrective Services is looking to conduct a trial of mobile phone jamming technology at another New South Wales prison, with the technology to be subsequently rolled out to prisons across the country should the trial prove successful. 

"At this stage, all of the States and Territories in Australia have met and made a submission to ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority)," a spokeswoman for John Robertson, NSW Minister for Corrective Services told iTnews.

"ACMA will meet this month to consider the application for an exemption and at this stage we are confident that the Commonwealth will grant an exemption for the first ever trial of mobile phone jamming technology in an Australian correctional facility."

Lithgow Correctional Facility, situated just over two hours west of Sydney, has been earmarked as the most suitable site to conduct the initial trial. 

"Assuming we are able to get the technology we need into the country we can hopefully get a trial up before the end of the year," the spokeswoman said. 

While the trial would be a first for a correctional facility in Australia, the technology is already in use across the Tasman. 

"New Zealand has trialed the technology and I know from their initial trials they identified some issues with spillage, where the jamming technology knocks out areas beyond the perimeter you are targeting - so that is something we are obviously going to have to look at," the spokeswoman said.

New Zealand authorities have since managed to iron out these spillage issues, she said, and their experience is likely to be used as a case study to help convince ACMA to grant an exemption.

The spokeswoman said it is unknown how much the project will cost nor how long it will take for mobile jamming technology to be rolled out to correctional facilities across the country should the trial prove successful. 

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