Gunn, a big-time Nottingham gangster who ordered the revenge killings of John and Joan Stirland, threatened: “I will be home one day and I can’t wait to look into certain people’s eyes and see the fear of me being there.”

An inquest opened this week to determine whether police corruption contributed to the Stirlands’ death. They were gunned down at their bungalow in Lincolnshire in 2004.

Gunn had set up his Facebook profile in November, claiming prison authorities had relaxed their attitude towards him after he had served part of his sentence in Whitemoor jail, Cambridgeshire, the Sunday Times reported at the weekend.

The Ministry of Justice says prisoners are banned from using social networking sites, and his page was closed by Facebook for violating its policies.

But Gunn is the latest in a line of convicted criminals who have used social networking sites to abuse victims and boast about life in prison.

Taunting victims

Last month, Jade Braithwaite, jailed for knifing to death Ben Kinsella, 16, used the site to taunt his victim’s family.

The 20-year-old boasted he was “down but not out” and wanted a remote control so he could “mute or delete people when I need to”.

Manchester gangster Domenyk Noonan, also known as Lattlay-Fottfoy, 45, was believed to have used a smuggled mobile telephone to add photos and comments to his webpage.

And prolific burglar Roy Boodle, 28, taunted detectives on Facebook for 18 months saying that he could not be caught. But he was and was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Earlier this month, relatives of victims of violent crime called for the introduction of electronic anti-social behaviour orders, or “e-Asbos” to stop convicted killers bragging online.

A group including Mr Kinsella’s sister, actress Brooke, plus relatives of murdered teenagers Jimmy Mizen and Rob Knox revealed how they had been tormented online.

They have posted their petition on the Downing Street website and attracted 742 signatures.

Ben’s father George told ITV: “Ben’s sisters, younger sisters, look at Facebook regularly and my wife found it very distressing to read some of the comments that were being put on there on virtually a daily basis.”

The Mizens said they saw a message posted on Twitter which said altar boy Jimmy was a “pathetic loser”.

Barry Mizen, whose son Jimmy died when he was attacked in a bakery in Lee, south-east London, said the family were also “bullied” via Facebook.

He told the programme: “We’re basically being intimidated, we’re being bullied by this site, by the things that were being said. I found it very distressful – our children, my wife etc, all put in complaints directly to Facebook. There is an option on there to do that. And nothing.”

Censoring letters

David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said there has always been concern about prisoners gaining access to the outside world.

“When I first worked in the prison service in 1984 there was concern about letters. We were still censoring prisoners’ letters, someone would go through every single letter with a black felt-tip pen,” he said.

“Then it was giving prisoners access to phones, with anxiety about who they were talking to and what they were saying. Now there’s the same issue with mobiles and the internet.”

He said there should not be a “knee-jerk reaction” to these incidents, as it was important to allow prisoners to communicate.

“We get a lot of intelligence about crime from prisoners. The amount gathered through phone calls being monitored is staggering. There’s a real benefit from monitoring what they’re saying,” he said.

He said there were also social and educational reasons for giving prisoners access to the outside world.

“Whether you like it or not, every single prisoner, with the exception of 34 (serving whole life terms), are going to come back into the community and when they come out they should be better trained and educated with more skills. We do this so that by having these skills they are less likely to reoffend.”

So what can be done? It’s thought that in all of these cases, prisoners were using mobile phones illicitly smuggled into prisons, which is an issue the prison service has been attempting to tackle for many years.

According to Ministry of Justice figures, prison officers found 3,910 mobiles and 4,189 sim cards during 2008. In 2006, they came across 2,272 mobile phones.

Strict rules

Every prison in England and Wales is using a special body scanning device to search visitors and inmates for concealed sim cards.

The Prison Service says it is also testing a system to block the signals of mobile phones it cannot uncover, without disrupting the signals of phones used by ordinary people beyond prison walls.

Facebook says it takes the safety of its users very seriously and content which is intimidating, hateful or threatening is not tolerated and is removed.

“We get a lot of intelligence about crime from prisoners. The amount gathered through phone calls being monitored is staggering. There’s a real benefit from monitoring what they’re saying,” he said.

He said there were also social and educational reasons for giving prisoners access to the outside world.

“Whether you like it or not, every single prisoner, with the exception of 34 (serving whole life terms), are going to come back into the community and when they come out they should be better trained and educated with more skills. We do this so that by having these skills they are less likely to reoffend.”

So what can be done? It’s thought that in all of these cases, prisoners were using mobile phones illicitly smuggled into prisons, which is an issue the prison service has been attempting to tackle for many years.

According to Ministry of Justice figures, prison officers found 3,910 mobiles and 4,189 sim cards during 2008. In 2006, they came across 2,272 mobile phones.

Strict rules

Every prison in England and Wales is using a special body scanning device to search visitors and inmates for concealed sim cards.

The Prison Service says it is also testing a system to block the signals of mobile phones it cannot uncover, without disrupting the signals of phones used by ordinary people beyond prison walls.

Facebook says it takes the safety of its users very seriously and content which is intimidating, hateful or threatening is not tolerated and is removed.

Source: BBC

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