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Facebook posts in name of jailed Ipswich killers ‘will not happen again’, minister promises

PUBLISHED: 16:22 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 30 January 2020

Chelmsford Prison, where members of the Ipswich drug gangs J-Block and Neno are being held. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Chelmsford Prison, where members of the Ipswich drug gangs J-Block and Neno are being held. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

“Appalling” social media posts in the name of jailed Ipswich killers “will not happen again”, a minister has promised following pressure from the town’s MP.

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

Tom Hunt demanded that action be taken to punish inmates after a Facebook post surfaced in the name of Callum Plaats, one of five jailed for killing Ipswich teenager Tavis Spencer-Aitkens.

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

Having already submitted a written parliamentary question the Conservative, who was elected in the 2019 general election, intervened during a House of Commons debate to propose that prisoners caught posting on social media should be made to serve their full sentences.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has raised the issue over the social media posts in parliament. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich MP Tom Hunt has raised the issue over the social media posts in parliament. Picture: PAUL GEATER

In response, parliamentary under secretary of state for justice Chris Philip said work was being undertaken to "ensure that the terrible circumstances that he so eloquently and powerfully described will not happen again".

Mr Philip said that: "The case he described - a 14-year sentence for manslaughter with an automatic release at half-way - is exactly within the scope of this statutory instrument."

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He was referring to the Release of Prisoners Order 2019, which will ensure the most serious violent and sexual offenders spend at least two thirds of their sentence in prison - rather than half their sentence, as is currently the case.

Mr Hunt said he was "pleased to have been able raise my concerns about social media use in prisons directly with ministers in the House of Commons chamber".

However, he is due to meet the prisons minister next month to discuss the issue further.

"The fact that the automatic release of violent offenders at the half-way stage of their sentence will end will wipe the smirks off many of the faces of the offenders posting on social media from prison, but I will not stop until victims never have to worry about seeing those smirks in the first place," he said.

"I want to delve further into the detail with the prisons minister regarding the punishments dispensed for social media posts in prison, both in Tavis' case and across the country.

"These posts will have caused great pain for Tavis' family. This must not continue to happen in the future and the punishment for these actions must be severe in all cases across the country."

Previously, 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.

The £28million 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.


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