Inmates made to 'earn' perks

The Justice Secretary is unveiling sweeping changes to the system of privileges that operates in all prisons. Under the new scheme, prisoners will have to earn perks through good behaviour rather than staying out of trouble, he said.

Latest ITV News reports

Government: We should 'expect more of prisoners'

Prisons minister Jeremy Wright has told Daybreak that it is right for people to expect prisoners to avoid bad behaviour in prison.

He said:

What we think is that people are right to expect prisoners to avoid bad behaviour when they are in prison, so not to punch the officers not to smash up their cells, that's obviously the right expectation, but I think we should expect more of prisoners than that.

We should also expect them to engage in their own rehabilitation, we should expect them to work towards turning their lives around and if they do that then they'll be able to learn their privileges, and if they don't, they won't.

Former inmate: Are Govt plans 'vicious' to prisoners?

Former inmate Ben Gunn spent more than 30 years in prison, speaking to Daybreak he asked whether the Government's plans would reduce crime or "be vicious to prisoners for no particular reason?"

He said: "If we have money to spend on uniforms for the first two weeks that's 85,000 uniforms, that's not cheap, why not invest that money in work, and training, or education?"

Advertisement

Mother welcomes plans for prisoners to 'earn' rewards

Sally Knox's son Rob died in 2008, when he was stabbed to death in a fight outside the Metro Bar in Sidcup, south-east London.

Rob Knox (right) with his mother Sally and younger brother Jamie Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Archive

Speaking to Daybreak about the Government's plans to reward inmates on merit she said prisoners should be "should be spending more time in their cell thinking about what they did, and the other thing is there needs to be more education and training."

She added: "What are we achieving by giving prisoners satellite TV to behave?"

Charity: Policing what inmates watch on DVD is 'bizarre'

The head of the Howard League for Penal Reform charity has said she thinks it is unlikely that today's reforms to the system of prison privileges will "get prisoners out of bed and into work or training".

There have been numerous inspectorate reports published recently which have found prisons struggling to offer any purposeful activity within their walls. As their budgets continue to be squeezed, this problem will only get worse.

It is bizarre then to introduce new layers of red tape which will only add to the cost of prison and demands on staff time."

It is also astounding that the Justice Secretary spends his time policing what prisoners watch on DVD to the point that Scary Movie 2 or series three of The Inbetweeners will be banned.

– Frances Crook, Howard League for Penal Reform

Advertisement

Justice Secretary: Prisoners need to earn privileges

Prisoners need to earn privileges, not simply through the avoidance of bad behaviour but also by working, taking part in education or accepting the opportunities to rehabilitate themselves.

We have reviewed the scheme fully, and I believe it is now something the public can have confidence in.

Only by tackling bad behaviour and taking part in education or work programmes as well as addressing any alcohol or drug issues can we cut [rates of] reoffending.

– chris grayling, justice secretary

Main changes under new scheme for prison privileges

These are the main changes that will be implemented across all prisons in the UK:

  • Movement up the levels will depend on "positive engagement" - not the absence of bad behaviour
  • A new 'entry' level for all new prisoners
  • All convicted prisoners will work a longer day
  • Ban on watching TV while prisoners should be working
  • Gym access beyond the statutory entitlement will be dependent on active engagement with rehabilitation
  • Subscription channels removed from private prisons
  • Certificate 18 DVDs banned from prisons

Source: Ministry of Justice

Read: Inmates will have to 'earn' perks in new prison scheme

What is the Incentives and Earned Privileges system?

The Incentives and Earned Privileges system determines which prisoners are entitled to privileges such as extra visits, the ability to earn more money in prison jobs and access to in-cell TV.

Under the current system, there are three levels: 'basic', 'standard' and 'enhanced. Each level has certain associated perks which are set by individual prisons but are broadly the same.

Prisoners currently start on 'standard' and may lose or gain a status based on their behaviour.

Inmates will have to 'earn' perks in new prison scheme

Prisoners will have to "earn the right" to certain privileges behind bars under new plans being unveiled by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today.

Subscription channels will be banned from private prisons
Subscription channels will be banned from private prisons Credit: Matthew Fearn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The new measures will include bans on 18-rated films and subscription channels as well as a new "entry" level for all new prisoners.

The changes will be written into the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme, which operates in all prisons, over the next six months.

Mr Grayling said that "for too long, there has been an expectation that privileges are an automatic right, given simply as a reward for staying out of trouble".