The debate over whether prison inmates should be allowed video game consoles is one that surfaces periodically.
But the head of Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency offered a new twist this week when SOCA director-general Bill Hughes claimed that jailed crime lords were controlling their illicit empires via Internet-enabled video game consoles. U.K. newspaper the Times reported Hughes's comments:
If you are locked up, how do you communicate with others? And we have been highlighting the fact it is not always with mobile telephones. There is other technology used — people are using PlayStations to charge their mobile phones and are playing games interactively with others, so are able to communicate with them.
The Prison Service is concerned that prisoners are using interactive games to talk to people outside the prison. Communication is the name of the game and criminals are looking to exploit new technologies. Prisoners have rights and they have access to the internet...
U.K. prison officials, however, expressed outrage over Hughes's remarks, which apparently caught them off-guard. A spokesman for the Prison Service told the Times:
Prisoners have never been allowed access to wireless enabled technology such as that used in some games consoles. Nor would they ever be allowed access to such technology.
A decision was taken some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred because the capability to send or receive radio signals is an integral part of the equipment.
Although the Times mentions that SOCA chief Hughes later apologized privately to prison boss Phil Wheatley, the newspaper also reports that SOCA is standing by its original claim.
As GamePolitics has previously reported, U.K. prisons allow inmates with good behavior to use game consoles. Potentially suicidal inmates are also permitted to play.