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Prisoners 'posting pictures from jail on Facebook'.

Byline: JAMES MCCARTHY Reporter james.mccarthy@walesonline.co.uk

PRISONERS claim to have set up a Facebook page using their mobile phones so they can post pictures from jail.

The page, called Parc Banter, has been put together by four men, who we are not naming for legal reasons.

It claims to be filled with images of prisoners and seems to show a mobile phone being charged by a method using soft drinks.

When our reporter got in touch with the operators of the Parc Banter page - believed to refer to HMP Parc in Bridgend - he was told: "This is our banter page while in prison."

They claimed the page had been operating for two weeks and guards didn't know of its existence.

Asked how they had access to the internet, Parc Banter admitted they were using mobiles.

The person messaging said "everyone" had them inside before asking: "Are you a police officer?" Our reporter told them, for the second time, he was a reporter.

"You want our names to put in your story?" Parc Banter asked, before proceeding to give four names.

"Where are you putting this story btw [by the way]?" they asked.

Our investigator told them it would be appearing on WalesOnline.

"Are you for real?" Parc Banter said.

"We are going to get in to trouble."

A number of large red angry face emojis were messaged, along with one of a smiling pig.

They said they would face a "cell spin".

Pictures from the page have also been posted on another page called Gloss Bridgend.

The administrator of that site was keen to raise awareness of the situation.

A spokesman wanted to know "why it's okay for people in prison to have a mobile phone and be able to log on to social media", adding: "We have had a lot of photos sent in from Parc Prison, prisoners using mobile phones and using Snapchat.

"We would like this to go viral as Parc are not doing anything."

He claimed the authorities "don't seemed to be bothered".

He said people in the pictures had been identified to him by people who knew them.

"We have had people point them out," he said.

Inmates were getting phones from people "throwing them over the wall", he added.

"They are meant to be in prison at the end of the day," the spokesman said.

"We would like the police and prison to act on this.

"We want the prison to see it." Monmouth MP David Davies was stunned by the prisoners' audacity.

"There is clearly a problem with the way the prison is being run if it is that easy to set up a Facebook page," Mr Davies said.

"Though if you are managing to set them up using the kind of apparatus that was being used in Colditz, you have to admire their ingenuity.

"You wonder why they are not able to make a living in the real world where many people struggle with Facebook and IT with everything that is available in the wider world.

"What a pity they are not able to put those skills to good use outside."

Parc Prison director Janet Wallsgrove said: "Like prisons across the country, it is a constant challenge to detect, intercept and seize contraband, including mobile phones.

"Not only is it a criminal offence to be in possession of a mobile phone inside a prison but they also pose a serious risk to the safety and stability of a prison's regime.

"We work closely with South Wales Police to ensure that those who break the law are prosecuted.

"The HMPPS digital investigations team is working to get the content removed from social media."

The Ministry of Justice and South Wales Police declined to comment.

Under the Offender Management Act 2007 it is an offence to have a mobile phone in prison.

Prisoners are also banned from using the internet, except under certain circumstances.

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Photos from the Facebook group Parc Banter which allegedly feature serving prisoners at Parc Prison
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 30, 2017
Words:670
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