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Social media use in jail will be punished, says minister after killer post

PUBLISHED: 15:43 25 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:43 25 January 2020

HMP Chelmsford will be among 16 prsions to receive beefed up security measures  Picture: ANDREW PARSONS/PA

HMP Chelmsford will be among 16 prsions to receive beefed up security measures Picture: ANDREW PARSONS/PA

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Justice leaders insist the use of mobile phones in prison will be rooted out and punished after the appearance of 'appalling' social media posts in the name of jailed Ipswich killers.

Callum Plaats appeared to be posting to Facebook from prison  Picture: FACEBOOKCallum Plaats appeared to be posting to Facebook from prison Picture: FACEBOOK

The town's MP asked the Secretary of State what steps were being taken to punish inmates for accessing social media after a Facebook post surfaced in the name of Callum Plaats - one of five jailed for killing Ipswich teenager Tavis Spencer-Aitkens.

Tom Hunt said he was reassured by the prisons minister's response to his parliamentary question, highlighting that 387 profiles were removed in 2019, and that inmates guilty of using devices could face prosecution resulting up to two years' additional custody.

Last week, the government announced HMP Norwich and Chelmsford, which hold members of Ipswich's JBlock and Neno drug gangs, were among 16 jails to get tough security measures as part of an investment in cracking down on crime behind bars.

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The £28m for X-ray scanners is funded from the government's £100m package to boost security and will also fund metal-detection gear, phone-blocking technology and a digital forensics facility.

Social media accounts in the names of JBlock members have appeared online since they were jailed for killing Tavis Spencer-Aitkens in 2018.

Plaats was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 14 years. A comment posted on January 10 from a Facebook account in his name, including a picture, boasted: "Five years left, light work."

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he was "appalled" by the post, adding: "Victims and their families should not have to suffer the additional pain of being goaded by the perpetrators while they are behind bars. I made clear that there should be consequences for any prisoner caught using social media.

Callum Plaats was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYCallum Plaats was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

"It is reassuring that there are measures in place to punish phone and social media use in prison, although I think it is equally important that these measures are being used fully and consistently when offenders are found guilty.

"I will therefore go back to the Ministry of Justice seeking further information. I want to know how many of those prisoners caught with phones or on social media are penalised beyond just having their accounts shut down, and what are the actual penalties they have received."

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