Yorkshire jail shuts down prisoners’ Facebook accounts

PRISON bosses have shut down illicit Facebook accounts used by inmates at Wakefield’s maximum security jail.

Investigations were launched last year into accounts in the names of serving prisoners at the jail, which houses some of the country’s most infamous sex offenders and killers.

Officials were not able to say which inmates were involved.

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The Prison Service said officials had investigated and pursued the removal of five or fewer Facebook accounts which have had regular updates posted in breach of prison rules.

Prison Service rules say inmates must not be allowed to access or contribute through a third party to any social networking site while in custody. Restrictions also apply to those on temporary release.

But some prisoners have been known to gain unauthorised access to social networking sites by using illicit mobile phones, via a third party, such as a letter to a friend which is then posted on their Facebook profile, or by accessing the internet while on temporary licence.

Although the Prison Service said it was impossible to determine for certain if the accounts were being directly updated by prisoners at Wakefield, their investigations found enough evidence to refer the matter to the Offender Safety, Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) Group – the only body with the power to seek removal of sites.

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Rules says concerns about social media sites are referred to OSRR when “there are risks to victims or witnesses.”

Searches carried out at HMP Wakefield to try to find any devices used to access Facebook were unsuccessful, meaning no prisoner has been disciplined.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “It is a criminal offence to have a mobile phone in prison and we work hard to keep them out.”