Convicted murderer joins dating site from Oakwood prison

Bosses at HMP Oakwood say stopping prisoners from using mobile phones is 'a constant challenge' after it emerged inmates were joining online dating sites from behind prison walls.

Convicted murderer joins dating site from Oakwood prison

Convicted murderer Neal Bond, 40, set up a profile on on which he claimed he was looking to 'make friends' with women close to Wolverhampton that he can visit when he gets out.

On the site, Bond, who was jailed in 2003 for bludgeoning to death Somali refugee Mustafa Ali with a fire extinguisher, describes himself as 'very attractive, athletic and toned'.

He has forfeited his place in society for the duration of his sentence and, as such, has forfeited his right to meet people on the outside.

The same goes for other prisoners who think it is perfectly acceptable to sign up to online dating the way they might if they were still free.

Bosses at the prison near Wolverhampton say it is a constant challenge to stop inmates using mobiles.

But it is a battle they must win.

Prison exists first and foremost as a punishment.

It is also there to protect decent people from those who have broken the law and present a danger to society.

If prisoners want to date someone or make new friends, they should wait until they have served their time.

Of course there must be rehabilitation to help a prisoner learn how to become a useful and law abiding member of the public once they are deemed fit to be released.

This the authorities know which is why they already ban mobile phones and SIM cards.

They must come down like a ton of bricks on any inmate who smuggles one in. A prisoner joining dating sites is, after all, the thin end of the wedge.

Smartphones allow someone to access more than that.

They are, effectively, the means with which to carry the entire internet in a pocket.

Through email, social media and more they can do everything from contact their victims' families to continuing to run a criminal empire.

If prisoners will insist on abusing the system, then the system will have to be made tougher.

As much power as possible should be given to prison officers to search prisoners and seize items they should not have.

And if there are any howls of outrage from the human rights lobby, we would remind them that it is the prisoners themselves that have created the situation they are in.

They cannot be permitted to get away with such blatant rule breaking.

By posting his picture on a dating website, Neal Bond is effectively mocking the prison service and the whole justice system.

He lists his perfect partner as having 'intelligence, good looks, humour, money, power, flirtatiousness and thoughtfulness'.

Bond, of Luton, Beds, adds: "I like a good personality. I'm looking for someone who isn't shy so can hold a good conversation.

"I never go for a certain type but, sorry, I don't go for overweight women." Bond was placed in solitary confinement while prison officials investigate the incident.

G4S Director for HMP Oakwood, John McLaughlin, said: "Like every other prison in the country, it is a constant challenge to detect and seize contraband items such as mobile phones.

"Our prison custody officers are trained to look for contraband and we conduct regular cell searches and wing lockdowns to remove mobile phones, chargers and SIM cards.

"There is no place for mobile phones at HMP Oakwood and we will always act on information provided by the media or members of the public, which suggests that any prisoner has access to a mobile phone."

Prison officials say mobile phones are usually smuggled into jail and shared around inmates. SIM cards are said to be extremely difficult to detect due to limited powers available to staff to search prisoners.

Prison custody officers and police officers have no powers to search intimate areas even where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a prisoner is concealing a phone, contraband or illegal items.

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson said he plans to write to the prison's minister to highlight the problems faced by prison officers over illegal contraband.

"To ensure prisons are properly run they need to be given powers to search inmates and retrieve items where necessary," he said.

Oakwood has had a problem with phones being smuggled in since it opened in April 2012.

The following year 194 mobile phones were seized off crooks serving time there, while the Express & Star received numerous calls from inmates direct from the wing.

The then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling vowed to sort the problem of mobile phones in prisons after almost 7,500 mobile phones or SIM cards .

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