Bromley and Eltham MPs have demanded answers from the Prime Minister about what is being done to tackle the rise of smuggled mobile phones in jail – amid fears that prisoners are using them to intimidate victims on the outside.

A staggering 23,000 handsets and sim cards were seized from UK prisons in 2017, according to the Ministry of Justice – and they are increasingly being used to commit crimes behind bars.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week, Eltham MP Clive Efford, said: “I have recently been dealing with two cases where violent partners have been running a campaign of threats and intimidation from within prison against their former partners, yet they are still up for parole.”

He added: “It does not seem that the police locally, who are investigating these crimes, are contacting the MOJ and the Prison Service to ensure that this is taken into account when these people are considered for parole.”

Bob Neill, Bromley and Chislehurst MP and chair of the Justice Committee, said: “Obviously, illegal activity is taking place on the outside in order to get these phones in, as well as within the prisons."

Responding to Mr Efford’s question in the House of Commons, Victoria Atkins, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for the home department, said: “The Government have introduced legislation to disconnect mobile phones in prisons remotely; they have invested £2 million in mobile phone detection equipment; and the Ministry of Justice is working closely with mobile network operators to deliver cutting-edge technology to prevent mobile phones from being smuggled into prisons and then working.”

She added: “I want to emphasise that it is getting harder and harder for prisoners to get mobile phones into prisons and to then use them. Indeed, at least 150 phones have been disconnected since the telecommunications restriction regulations came into force.”

Last month, News Shopper reported on an acid attacker who was handed an extra eight months behind bars for smuggling a mobile phone into Belmarsh prison.

Arthur Collins, 25, said he smuggled the device into the high-security jail in Thamesmead so he could call his pregnant girlfriend, ex-Towie star Ferne McCann.

He hid the phone alongside two sim cards and two memory sticks inside a crutch while on remand in September before the trial for his acid attack.