Inmate phone store '£20000 a year'
Storing prisoners' confiscated mobile phones until they ask for them back costs taxpayers £20,000 a year, the Government has said.
Criminals can ask for handsets seized in cell raids to be returned when they walk free, a situation branded "perverse and outrageous".
But MPs have now backed plans to allow prison governors to destroy or sell phones confiscated from inmates and give profits to victims' groups.
Prisons minister Jeremy Wright said storing 41,000 phones confiscated in British jails costs taxpayers £20,000 a year. "This is property that should not be in prison in the first place, that is being used while it is in prison for a variety of nefarious purposes. Anything we can do to prevent that, we should do," he told MPs.
Conservative MP Stuart Andrew put forward a Private Member's Bill following a series of high-profile cases of inmates using smuggled phones to update their Facebook pages, contact victims' families and even arrange a gangland murder from behind bars.