Taxpayers' money is being wasted on compensating prisoners over damaged stereos and missing socks, a prison watchdog said, as it urged prison staff to accept responsibility for prisoners' property.
Nigel Newcomen, from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), said:
Most property complaints concern small-value items, but these can still mean a lot to prisoners with little.
Unfortunately, too many of the issues involved could and should have been dealt with more quickly and efficiently by the prisons concerned.
Instead, despite perfectly sound national policies and instructions, prisons too often refuse to accept their responsibilities when property has been lost or damaged.
This leaves prisoners in limbo, creates unnecessary frustration and tension and leads to complaints, too many of which require independent adjudication.
Mr Newcomen added that using up "scarce staff resources" was not a good use of public money.
More top news
Selfless Donna Wood from Staffordshire has left her husband and children at home so she can help save lives in Sierra Leone.
From Sierra Leone to Cyprus, 8,500 Christmas boxes were sent out to every serviceman and woman from the UK.
Thousands of people have switched off their Christmas lights as a mark of respect for the victims of the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy.