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UK Prison Bans PS3s Over Fears of Escape - UPDATED

| 17 Jun 2009 17:46
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Inmates of Britain's Rye Hill Prison are no longer allowed to use PlayStation 3s because wardens fear that they could use the system's WiFi capabilities to communicate with outsiders.

Looks like InFAMOUS is a no go for the inmates of Britan's Rye Hill Prison, because all use of Sony's console has been banned from the institution over fears that inmates would use the system for dastardly things like communicating with people on the outside to plan criminal activities.

Wardens apparently discovered inmates using the system to talk to their friends, and while they may have been harmlessly chatting about the latest happenings in local sports or whether the Natal is better than the PlayStation Wand or who their favorite Twilight character is, that doesn't matter. "PlayStation 3 consoles are barred on the grounds that they have the capability to send and receive radio signals as an integral part of the equipment," a prison official told The Guardian.

As GamePolitics rightly points out, shouldn't the fact that prisoners can get access to a WiFi signal that they can use for this kind of communication be just as important an issue?

This news confirms some of the fears of the Serious Organized Crime Agency in the UK, which expressed concern last month that "prisoners are using interactive games to talk to people outside prison," a claim that Her Majesty's Prison Service denied, saying that the decision was taken "some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred" because of their ability to send/receive radio signals.

Well, apparently some of the prisons out there in the UK either hadn't gotten the memo, or the policy hadn't yet been updated from the "then-current generation of consoles" to the "now-current" generation. Oh it must have been easier to run a videogame-friendly prison system back in 1999. You could never use the Dreamcast's 56K modem to plan a prison break.

UPDATE: According to the UK Ministry of Justice, Rye Hill prisoners haven't lost their PS3 privileges at all, because they never had any to begin with.

"There are not and never have been Playstation 3s at HMP Rye Hill," a statement declared. "Prisoners in England and Wales have never been allowed access to wireless enabled technology such as that used in some games consoles."

The Ministry explained that there has been a policy in place for years that bans the use of any devices that could send or receive radio signals, and that this ban applies not only to the use of the PS3, but the 360, DS, PSP and Wii.

This is essentially the same denial the prison service made in response to claims from the Serious Organized Crime Agency tat prisoners were using consoles to communicate with the outside world. But what of reports saying that inmates at other UK prisons own Wiis and PS3s? Either the UK government is playing cover up, or somebody out there doesn't have their facts straight. Whatever the case may be, some inmate out there's never going to get the chance to play God of War III.

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