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Business as usual with “Cell” Phones

Media Release:


4th September 2008


Business as usual with “Cell” Phones

Yesterday we were informed by Hon Phil Goff that 6 months of intelligence work had finally culminated with 180 Police Officers conducting mass drug raids in homes and prisons,  uncovering a large methamphetamine network. It appears that the operation of this business had to a large extent been conducted from within the prisons, using cellphones.

Christine Davey, Spokesperson on Drug Issues for the Sensible Sentencing Trust, notes that Corrections have been working with Vodafone and Telecom for over a year on installing cellphone blocking technology – and yet Mr Goff  tells us that currently only four prisons - Otago, Auckland Women's, Manawatu and Northland - now have blocking in place. Another five or six are in the process of having blocking technology installed, with the remainder being put in place by early next year.

Last year it was estimated that the approximate cost of implementing the cell phone jamming technology across New Zealand’s 20 prisons would be $5 million. Ms Davey would like to know what it has cost NZ for this 6 month Operation and for 180 Police Officers to be tied up in these drug raids yesterday, and why it is taking so long to install this technology.

Mr Goff comments that surveillance will give Corrections the ability to detect any prisoners “stupid enough to continue to try to organise criminal activity”. Ms Davey suggests that it's not the prisoner who is stupid – he/she is merely taking full advantage of a huge loophole in the system which is taking a ridiculously long time to be closed.

She suggests that it's very likely that a lot more drug business is going to be conducted by cellphone before all prisons have been fitted with this technology, requiring a lot more Police resources to be spent on more of these Operations when they should be being utilised stopping crime on the streets of South Auckland.


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