SNP MSP Ruth Maguire today pressed the Scottish Government on the need for robust safeguards to be in place as prisoners access to mobile phones was announced.

The MSP for Cunninghame South stressed the importance of ensuring that prisoners who have been convicted of domestic abuse will not be able to use these mobile phones to continue to stalk and harass their victims from behind bars.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Maguire said: “I welcome that mobile phones will be provided to those in custody and I agree that maintaining family contact is vital. But the news will be concerning to some people. What safeguards will be put in place to ensure that perpetrators of violence against women, of domestic abuse or stalking are prevented from abusing, harassing or stalking their victims online or over the phone?”

In response, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “At the moment, the phones that are used within prisons have some level of restriction on them, but these are exactly the issues and security restrictions we need to work through. For example, prisoners will be asked to input three numbers into that phone. It will then be for the prison service to verify that those numbers are not inappropriate numbers to be calling, all of that is what takes a bit of time.”

Providing further comment, Ruth Maguire said: “Whilst recognising the vital importance of maintain family contact as visiting is suspended under social distancing measures.  It is of equal importance that the public and specifically victims of crime know they will be safe during what is already a really difficult time for everyone.

I welcome the Justice Secretary’s reassurances given in the chamber but will be writing to him for more detail on the suggested safeguards and to ask that the Scottish Government work with women’s charities to ensure that measures suggested are robust enough to ensure that survivors of domestic abuse, indeed all victims of crime are not faced with the prospect of being harassed or stalked by perpetrators from custody.”