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Contact with family members is considered important for mental wellbeing

Prisoners in Scotland are to be given access to mobile phones so they can contact their families.

The move follows the suspension of visiting to prisons because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Scottish government and Scottish Prison Service hope the access to phones will support the mental health and wellbeing of inmates.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said it was important prisoners and their families were supported.

He said: “We will make sure that the use of mobile phones in prisons is done in a way which is practical and safe – for those in custody, their families and those in the wider community.

“The phones will be provided as soon as possible once we have resolved some outstanding issues and establish robust systems necessary to roll out and manage this new communications approach across the prison estate.”

No text messages

Restrictions on the use of the phones will include the monitoring of some outgoing calls.

Prisoners will not be able to text, access the internet or receive incoming calls, under the proposals.

Teresa Medhurst, interim chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said difficult decisions had been taken in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

She said: “The provision of phones for those in custody is a crucial way in which we can help support and maintain family contact during this time of uncertainty.”

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