The ongoing fiasco at the central prisons currently under investigation has raised the issue of cell phones within the facility, their use by inmates and the means employed to counter said usage, an issue that the prison’s department has been trying to resolve at least since 2021.

According to urgent letters send by the prisons department addressed to the state’s electromechanical services, obtained by daily Politis, the prison authorities have been sounding the alarm regarding the need for upgrading the prison’s cell phone jamming system since at least 2021 without ever receiving a response from the relevant authorities.

The prison’s department has sent at least six urgent letters since early 2021.

The latest one states: “Following up to the previous letters sent to you since the beginning of 2021 until May 27 2022 we repeat our request, as previously stated, for the immediate upgrade of the cell phone jammers at the central prisons… according to the contract, the project should be complete by June 20, 2022 and has not even commenced yet,” the letter signed by Athena Demetriou, prison’s official.

Crucially, the delay in the upgrade may not resolve the issues in any event as rapid technological change may exceed the capabilities of the system.

“Further delay will render the system inefficient in meeting the technological requirements…taking into account the continuous and rapid development of technology,” the letter sent on June 21 reads.

According Politis, the letters sent to the state’s electromechanical services were also made available to the attorney-general, the justice minister and the undersecretary to the president but apparently no action was taken. Moreover, in August last year the cabinet held a discussion regarding the matter, but no solution was provided then either.

The prisons department’s approved budget for 2021 did have funds available for the purchasing of electronic security systems.

Transport minister Yiannis Karousos declined to comment, citing confidentiality and the question as to why the electromechanical services of his ministry had failed to implement the upgrading of the cell phone jammer.