Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire after her Scottish government distributed thousands of ‘unhackable’ mobile phones to inmates, some of which were allegedly used in drug deals.
The ‘tamper proof’ phones were distributed to 7,600 inmates – at a cost of £3 million – as part of a project to allow inmates to keep in touch with family members during the Covid lockdowns.
But since then, more than 720 phones have been hacked by inmates who placed illegal SIM cards used for drug deals and other crimes. to ITV.
A prison guard told broadcasters that the inmates had started disrupting the fight against fraud “within hours”.
Video published by ITV also showed a man throwing drugs over the wall of Barlinnie, Scotland’s second largest prison.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the broadcaster today that she was not aware of the matter.
However, she promised government officials in Scotland – which has the highest drug death rate in Europe – would investigate.
“We have created another way for prisoners to interact with their families, in some cases their children,” she said.
“If you want to prove to me that phones have been tampered with, I’ll definitely look into it.”
But tonight, the SNP leader has been heavily criticized for the claims, with one Twitter user describing it as an “extraordinary revelation.”
One Twitter user, Craig Edward, posted: ‘There needs to be an urgent investigation into this mess. Did the SNP carry out a risk assessment prior to the implementation of this policy? Who apologizes for this?’
Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire after her Scottish government distributed thousands of ‘unhackable’ mobile phones to inmates, some of which were allegedly used in drug deals. Library image
Video published by ITV also appeared to show a man throwing drugs over Barlinnie’s wall (pictured) – Scotland’s second largest prison
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) told the broadcaster today that she was not aware of the matter. However, she promised government officials in Scotland – which has the highest drug death rate in Europe – would investigate
Another wrote: ‘To the surprise of absolutely no one, the SNP has another failure on their hands.’
One Twitter user added: ‘Another disgrace to the SNP.’
A prison officer, John McTavish, who works at HMP Barlinnie, told ITV he had discovered a third of the phones in one of his hallways had been tampered with.
He said, ‘You give a prisoner a phone, and they’re very, very ingenious. If they set their mind to something, they can do anything. Within hours, the evidence of fraud was gone.
“I checked the phones in one of the hallways here in March, and of the 300 inmates who were there, about 100 phones in all had been tampered with.”
MailOnline has contacted the Scottish Government for a response.
A spokesperson told ITV it was working with inmates to help “recognize the problems they have and to provide supportive counseling and medical care for those addictions”.
It comes as Ms Sturgeon was charged earlier this year with presiding over ‘national disgrace’ as Scotland’s drug deaths hit a new record of 1,339.
The stark toll, announced in June, rose 5 percent last year, its seventh annual rise in a row.
It means that the country still has the highest death rate in Europe.
At 21.2 deaths per 1,000 people, the level is more than three and a half times higher than in the rest of the UK.
Some 291 were killed in Glasgow alone, the worst affected area. Of the total number, 1,192 deaths were related in some way to opioids.
Amid outrage at the magnitude of the tragedy, Ms Sturgeon said it was “unacceptable” and that each was a “human tragedy.”
The stark toll rose 5 percent last year, the seventh annual rise in a row as the country still had the worst death rate in Europe
The latest official figures for 2020 show that middle-aged numbers have risen dramatically
Ms Sturgeon was accused of presiding over ‘national disgrace’ over the drug deaths
She insisted that the Scottish government “does not shy away from the responsibility and that we are determined to make changes that will save lives.”
In June she said: ‘These 2020 figures (though no less shameful for that) predate the actions set at the beginning of the year.
“We now have a dedicated drug minister in @AConstanceSNP, a substantial funding commitment and action to ensure, for example, faster access to community support, treatment and rehabilitation.
“We will also continue to advocate for drug law reform, which is currently beyond our control.
“Today my thoughts are with every family who has lost a loved one – I am sorry for the loss you have suffered.”
“However, I know that from @scotgov it doesn’t take words, but action to prevent people from dying, and that’s what we are determined to deliver.”
However, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: ‘The drug crisis is our national disgrace.
“It is a stain on Scotland that so many of our most vulnerable people have been left without hope, crushed by a system that has been thoroughly broken.”