They would be installed at high security blocks of nine prisons

Clandestine use of mobile phones by prisoners may soon get arrested with the State government deciding to install cell phone jammers in all the nine central prisons.

The government has issued an order for installation of 15 cell phone jammers at a cost of Rs. 5.4 crore in central prisons located at Puzhal near Chennai, Vellore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Salem, Cuddalore, Palayamkottai, and Coimbatore.

The jammers would primarily be installed in high security blocks in the nine prisons where hardcore criminals, fundamentalists, habitual offenders, and naxalites have been lodged.

Prison authorities here said Vellore and Coimbatore prisons would be provided with three jammers each.

Tiruchi Central Prison, accommodating over 1,200 inmates including 650 convicts, and the Puzhal jail on the outskirts of Chennai would be equipped with two jammers each while the remaining prisons would be provided with one jammer each.

Notwithstanding periodic security checks and installation of gadgets to prevent entry of unauthorised substances into central prisons, smuggling of cell phones, and its clandestine use in jails had been reported on many an occasion posing a perennial challenge to prison officials.

In addition to seizure of mobile instruments, confiscation of SIM (subscriber identity module) cards, battery chargers, and memory cards besides cash have been reported in various central prisons in the past.

Prison officials say installation of jammers would deactivate mobile phones inside jails cutting its surreptitious use. The number of cell phones confiscated from Tiruchi prison alone in the last two years was over 20, according to officials.

In one instance, confiscation of a mobile phone from a prisoner in Tiruchi prison triggered an attack on jail officials allegedly by a group of inmates in November 2012 while they were conducting checks in one of the blocks.

Tenders to be invited

Now that the order has been issued, prison officials say that the tender formalities would get initiated soon for the installation of equipment.