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The Ministry of Justice has cancelled a tender for mobile telephone detection equipment in prisons, having failed to find a suitable vendor.

The ministry advertised a framework contract in June 2007, planned to last four years and estimated to be worth £400,000, to provide "mobile phone detectors to detect the use of all mobile phones within the prison environment" in England and Wales.

But on 8 November 2008, it announced that although it received two offers, it had not awarded the contract, as "no compliant bids (were) received," according to the Official Journal of the European Union.

The ministry said that it plans to place a new advertisement shortly, adding that it already has various measures in place to detect mobile telephones in prisons, such as portable mobile phone blockers and body orifice security scanners, also known as Boss chairs, which will be introduced to all prisons from next year.

"We are also making full use of the new legislative provisions in the Offender Management Act 2007 which makes it a criminal offence for staff, visitors and prisoners to bring mobile phones into a prison, with a maximum penalty of 10 years," said a spokesperson.

"It is important to ensure all equipment is appropriate and good value for money, and we work closely with partners to identify and test developing technologies."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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