Scots want to keep cellphones despite growing fears of twisted illegal activity

CONS given £2.7million in free phones during Covid lockdowns can keep them – despite having landlines installed in every cell.

Critics warn gang kingpins will continue to abuse taxpayer-funded cellphones, using bootleg SIM cards to rule behind bars.

Scottish scammers allowed to keep mobile phones despite growing fearsCredit: Alamy

But prison leaders confirmed delays will be stuck on prison cellphones to improve access to a “set of digital services” that include in-cell landlines.

Scottish Tory Justices spokesman Russell Findlay said last night: “Having spent millions of pounds on free mobile phones for prisoners, the SNP Government is now installing landlines in cells.

“It’s strange that they don’t commit to retiring these phones, which are widely used for crimes like firebombing and witness intimidation.”

Prison leaders have started installing mobile phones across Scotland, including at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow.

Then-Justice Minister Humza Yousaf – who is now vying to become First Minister – was blasted in 2020 for deciding to spend public money on cellphones when prison visits were banned to stop the spread of Covid.

We shared how thousands of inmates were distributed so they could keep in touch with friends and family.

But many lags have sidestepped the system, including firebombing fiend Robert Warnock, 26, who used a cellphone to stage a “gangster campaign” behind bars in his hometown of Greenock.

The gang’s ringleader and five henchmen were sentenced in December to a total of 64 years in prison for the attempted assassination of rivals in 2020.

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Assassin Sean Orman, 32, who murdered T2 Trainspotting star Bradley Welsh, 48, in Edinburgh has been caught using an illegal phone in prison.

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The killer also had a charger in his cell during a search at HMP Shotts, Lanarkshire.

Orman, jailed for 28 years for shooting Welsh, admitted possessing the device in July 2021.

Last month warden Heather McKenzie, 31, was jailed for smuggling cocaine and a simulation to killer Zak Malavin, 30, at HMP Shotts.

And in October, 22-year-old murderer Jolene Docherty had her life sentence extended over cell phone cards hidden in her cell at Polmont, a juvenile detention center near Falkirk.

She had added four months to her at least 17-year streak for stabbing 18-year-old Conner Cowper in Holytown, Lanarkshire in 2018.

Visitor Samantha Jewell, 33, also attempted to plant a phone at Shotts by hiding it in a packet of Maltese.

A court heard she was shocked when she set off a metal detector last July.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prisons Service said: “We know how important it is for people in our care to stay in touch with friends and family.

“During the pandemic, we have implemented measures to support contact, including cell phones issued by prisons.

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“We are making progress in introducing a hardwired in-cell system that will support a range of digital services in the future.

“We reserve the right to record and monitor calls and, if necessary, to block access if abuse is suspected.”

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