Sunday, May 17, 2009

Playstations Used by Organized Crime Bosses Behind Bars to Maintain Control of Their Empires

The Serious Organized Crime Agency in the U.K. says jailed crime bosses are using PlayStations and "interactive internet games" to maintain control of their criminal organizations from behind bars.

Bill Hughes, the director-general of the agency, said criminals are using coded messages in chat rooms to pass on their orders and that PlayStations are being used to play interactive games with people on the outside as well as to charge cellphones that were being smuggled into prisons.

"We know that one of the issues is that if you are locked up, how do you communicate with others? And we have been highlighting the fact it is not always with mobile telephones," Hughes said. "There is other technology used - people are using PlayStations to charge their mobile phones and are playing games interactively with others, so are able to communicate with them."

"The Prison Service is concerned that prisoners are using interactive games to talk to people outside the prison," he continued. "Communication is the name of the game and criminals are looking to exploit new technologies. Prisoners have rights and they have access to the internet."

The accusation resulted from a report by SOCA that it is currently monitoring 5000 "crime bosses" in the U.K. and elsewhere. "Many of the 5,000 are not in the U.K. but are impacting on the U.K. from overseas. Some are in prison running their organizations and we are working with colleagues in the Prison Service," said outgoing SOCA Chairman Sir Stephen Lander. "Recidivism among organized criminals is high. These are lifestyle choices for these people. They will go to prison and we need to find a way of making it more difficult for them to re-engage."

But Her Majesty's Prison Service strongly denied the allegations, claiming that prisoners did not have access to the "wireless enabled technology" available in some consoles. "A decision was taken some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred because the capability to send or receive radio signals is an integral part of the equipment," a representative said.

I'm not sure which side of the console wars the U.K. prison system has taken but the use of the term "PlayStation" in this context sounds rather generic and not necessarily a reference to any of Sony's consoles. Regardless, it's comforting to know that even though I have no idea how to apply prison tattoos or make toilet wine, I now apparently possess a skill set that will help me survive if I ever land in the Big House.

Thanks to Andy Chalk

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