Swedish prisoners increasingly mobile

With famously relaxed prisons and a national obsession with mobile technology, the revelation in Sunday's DN that prisoners are using smuggled phones to organise crime outside was not altogether surprising.

Apparently 31 of the country’s 54 prisons experienced the problem last year, and a total of 606 phones were discovered – more than double the number found the year before.

“Clearly the problem has grown – and prisoners have become more dependent upon contact with the outside world,” said Christer Isaksson, head of security of the Swedish prison board. “But for our part, we have probably become better at finding the phones.”

If the crimes said to have been managed from behind prison walls are anything to go by, Isaksson’s staff need to become better still. One prisoner used his phone to coordinate the smuggling of amphetamines worth four million crowns into the country, while another organised the sale of 50,000 Rohypnol tablets from the Balkans.

DN found that the method of getting the phones inside varied from prison to prison. In some cases the prison officers themselves had supplied them – for up to SEK1,000 each – while the head of Hällby prison outside Eskilstuna said that “most of the phones were simply thrown over the walls”.

The paper didn’t mention whether prisoners were using email illegally too, but they may soon be joined by people who do. Many of the papers picked up on the fact that it is now an offence in Sweden to send unsolicited email, or spam.

According to recent research, 70% of email is now spam, up from just 10% three years ago. But now you can report such abuse directly to the Consumer Affairs Office via their web site – although they may have bitten off more than they can chew. In the first week they received “many thousands of emails” from irritated recipients.

The Local only hopes that its carefully crafted publication will not be among those reported this week.