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UK government calls on eBay, Amazon and Gumtree to stop selling BOSS phones

By Dan Wilson December 20, 2017 - 8:11 am

The British justice secretary David Lidington has called on eBay, Amazon and Gumtree to ban the sales of miniature phones called BOSS phones that are popular within prisons.

Needless to say, they are clandestine favourites because they can be easily smuggled in and are made entirely of plastic components and easily concealed. They cost £25 or so but within the prison system they can apparently fetch as much as £500.

You can read his full speech from earlier in the week.

The Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Lord Chancellor, said: “It’s pretty clear to me that these miniature phones are being manufactured and sold with the purpose of being smuggled into prisons. Why after all are they also advertised as being without any metal components.

That’s why today, I am calling on online retailers and trading websites to take down products on their platforms that are clearly intended to be used to evade detection measures in prison. I have written to Amazon, Ebay and Gumtree and I am keen to work with them to achieve this. Because we all, and in particular retailers, we all have an interest in seeking to limit and cut off the opportunities that are available to organised crime.“

At the risk of going a bit grumbly, why on earth is a minister making the sale of these devices the responsibility of online retailers?

If such BOSS phones are such a risk, then perhaps they should be banned altogether? And even if they aren’t, perhaps the prison service could get its own act in order and prevent them being illicitly smuggled into our nation’s jails.

To put the onus on marketplaces for these BOSS phones, as the justice secretary has clearly done, is simply to grandstand and evade responsibility. Perhaps next he will be going after hacksaw manufacturers and cake bakers for aiding escape attempts from prison soon too?

  • James
    12 months ago

    Why doesnt the same government try and put their foot down about foreign counterfeits too?

    Maybe instead of complaining about one product, i.e these stupid phones – they should work with the marketplaces full stop. This would have a great affect on small UK businesses.

  • steve
    12 months ago

    prisons should use mobile signal jammers. end of problem.

    • james
      12 months ago

      might work in a rural jail, but you can’t go deploying signal jammers in a city.
      what they could do (not that i agree with this) is deploy a stingray, which re-routes mobile call in the area through their own mast, which you can listen into and identify exactly which inmate has the phone and where.
      except stingrays are expensive and potentially illegal, and shouting at ebay is cheap and easy.

    • Web Dude
      12 months ago

      @ james – on jammers – think I am with Steve

      I see no reason why they could not deploy mobile phone jammers within the boundaries. If you happen to walk or drive past, you would only be temporarily interrupted and learn from the experience.

      In any case, if jammers are within the walls, there would be attenuation towards the outside. The biggest nuisance would be caused to staff, but on the other hand it would mean there could be fewer distractions from work if their phones would not be working either.

      There may be a few situations where it would be beneficial to have mobiles working within the prison (eg during a riot) for staff to maintain contact, and that could be achieved by having power supplies controlled from an area outside the prison blocks but within the outer perimeter, so if there are members of staff trapped within the prison, the jamming could be limited to block most areas while texts are sent in to staff (so they know there is a signal and hopefully can respond explaining their location), before blanket jamming returns.

  • Web Dude
    12 months ago

    @ james – I see no reason why they could not deploy mobile phone jammers within the boundaries. If you happen to walk or drive past, you would only be temporarily interrupted and learn from the experience.

    In any case, if jammers are within the walls, there would be attenuation towards the outside. The biggest nuisance would be caused to staff, but on the other hand it would mean there could be fewer distractions from work if their phones would not be working either.

    There may be a few situations where it would be beneficial to have mobiles working within the prison (eg during a riot) for staff to maintain contact, and that could be achieved by having power supplies controlled from an area outside the prison blocks but within the outer perimeter, so if there are members of staff trapped within the prison, the jamming could be limited to block most areas while texts are sent in to staff (so they know there is a signal and hopefully can respond explaining their location), before blanket jamming returns.

    • james
      12 months ago

      jammers don’t really work like that, they’re not confined by walls. in fact setting a boundary at all isn’t easy. much the same as the phone signal doesnt work like that.
      prisoners with stronger signals on their handsets may get through, while pensioners living nearby won’t get a signal.
      it may be fine for you walking or driving by, but people live in cities, near prisons. you can’t go jamming the phones of everyone within a mile of a prison, or any distance for that matter, the concept is ridiculous.
      the first time an old dear falls and can’t get help because she lives near a prison and her phone keeps getting jammed, the prison service would be sued to destruction.
      – it would be more practical and cheaper (counting the litigation costs) to put the prison inside a massive faraday cage. and that’s not at all practical or cheap.

  • jamie
    12 months ago

    are you all crazy your never happy unless you moaning about something you cant go around listening to peoples calls jamming signals ect its mental.
    also why should any market place lose out buy not selling these phones and why should anyone who isnt taking them into prisons lose out if they want one.
    i think phones are a problem in prisons but its not that hard to find them you only need to search the inmates properly to find them.

    • james
      12 months ago

      did you just jump on to moan about other people moaning, then have a general moan?
      it’s called a debate, about the topic posted here, pretty much the entire reason for having a comment section on a blog like this.
      no i can’t just go around deploying stingrays and listening to people’s calls, but the police already do (again, don’t agree with it, but it’s a fact).

    • alan paterson
      12 months ago

      Time to jump in. I have just eaten my left over turkey and pulled the last of my Xmas crackers. I WAS IN A GOOD MOOD ( I GOT A MOST EXCEPTIONAL HAT IN ONE OF MY CRACKERS AND A JOKE THAT WAS WAY TOO HILARIOUS TO SHARE ON HERE.)

      THEN…….. I come on here and there are moaners about sellers moaning about moaning posts from other sellers. I have had enough. If sellers want to moan don’t moan about the other sellers telling them not to moan. Its human nature. I am off to see if there is any trifle.

      I should really be the only seller allowed to moan on here – i sometimes think I’m the only person who knows what I’m moaning about.

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