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The weekly security bulletin of the National Offender Management Service published a story on a Muslim ISIS terrorist who had planned to take a prison officer hostage and escape prison. This bulletin was re-reported by the BBC.
The plan, which included an escape from the secure prison at the Isle of Wight in Southern England, was uncovered in the course of a search in the prisoner’s cell following early intelligence received regarding the inmate’s plan. It was further disclosed that an ISIS flag was found in his cell. The report added that a “comprehensive investigation” was underway by the prison authorities and the National Offender Management Service, and that “security measures inside the facility have been stepped up”.
The role intelligence plays in the general security picture within prisons, complete with the supporting technology, is explored in this special report by the i.hls.com intelligence and technology desk.
Correctional centers (both for terrorists and criminals) are an abundant source for diverse, quality and primarily up-to-date relevant intelligence, used for deriving critical information on the goings on within – as well as outside.
As in the world of military intelligence, the application of intel in correctional facilities consists of two fundamental elements: human and technological. Both are handled by the facility’s intelligence officer. He or she must plan their efforts wisely and regulate the application of their sources carefully, in particular the usage of the intelligence products they derive. The reason being, that exposing a method or any means of intelligence within a penal facility could be very rapid, and could result in severe repercussions.
Inmates within the ‘pressure environment’ of their predicament are oft ready, in exchange for what would seem trivial to an outsider (visiting hours or prison shop privileges), to divulge valuable information on what’s going on, including on terrorist or criminal activity they are involved in or in charge of. Another motive for divulging information, which prison intelligence officers often exploit to the fullest, is the inmates’ desire for revenge, rivalries and religious, ethnic, gang-relation and or organizational conflicts.
The second element of intelligence production is technological. A great deal of effort has been dedicated to preventing, at least prima facie, the introduction of cellular technology of any kind into jail, and application thereof. Prevention is aimed primarily at undermining inmates’ operational and organizational capabilities.
It would seem that powerful jammers could easily be deployed within prion walls, thereby completely foiling any cellular communications and preventing any calls and text messages to be made or received, as well as surfing the net or using electronic mail. In fact, prevention is never applies – as it shuts the staff members’ cellular applications down too.
Moreover, intelligence organizations often derive a great deal of effective, relevant intelligence from cellular (and electronic) communications in general. So, applying sophisticated tools and accurate, controlled and measured screening, allows certain penal facilities to ‘allow’ particular inmates access to cellular communication, in such a way said inmates feel safe and secure to use cellular devices.
Assuming of course this communication is monitored, surveyed, tapped and analyzed, it can be used to extract a great deal of important, executable data. After all, both parties realized that using this method is restricted to a small scale, strictly for the most important operational (criminal or counterterrorism) requirements. Furthermore, tracking the relations between the email, call or text destinations can produce mapping criminal or terrorist nets outside prison walls.
In addition to using cellular devices for intelligence purposes, prisons also have numerous video cameras throughout, which can be used to produce intelligence, in particular for mapping collusions and or inmate rivalries. Thus, tiny microphones can be secreted in various places inmates consider as “safe”.