Inmates complain over lack of TV sports channels

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The Independent Online

Inmates at a jail in South Wales have lodged a formal complaint with the prison authorities - because they want more sports channels on TV.

Prisoners at the Category B HMP Parc in Bridgend currently have access to Sky Sports 1 as a reward for "sustained good behaviour".

But the perk is not enough, according to reports, with criminals unhappy that they do not get Sky Sports 2 and 3 - which meant they missed out on Brighton's game against Liverpool in the Carling Cup last Wednesday.

The inmates' complaint to officials has been branded ridiculous by Conservative MP David Davies - who stressed that many people outside of prison could not afford the channels.

Mr Davies, MP for Monmouth, said: "I am aghast we are paying for prisoners to watch Sky TV. What next? Will prisoners be given a box at the Millennium Stadium for rugby matches?

"People should not be put in prison to spend their days watching expensive satellite packages. They should be educated and learn skills for their rehabilitation when they come out.

"It beggars belief they are complaining about this - I haven't even got Sky Sports myself."

Sky charges premises such as prisons around £100 a month for the Sky Sports One package - with an upgrade to the full choice of channels costing a further £78 a month.

For a private house which already has Sky TV, adding the Sky Sports Pack with all channels costs £20 extra a month.

HMP Parc is Wales's only privately-run prison.

Operated by security firm G4S, it houses more than 1,000 convicted male adult prisoners as well as those on remand and convicted young offenders.

The prison is described by its owners as a "secure but modern environment", with a strong emphasis on reducing re-offending and "enabling individuals to fulfil their potential back in their local communities".

Its facilities include two floodlit all-weather five-a-side football pitches and a modern gym, as well as regular coaching sessions from Cardiff City Football Club.

A statement on HMP Parc's website reads: "We have one of the best prison sporting facilities in the country and it is widely used by both prisoners and staff."

Officials at the prison defended its rewards scheme - saying similar methods were widely used in jails across the UK.

A spokesman said: "The system used is designed to encourage good behaviour among inmates.

"Rewards are only offered where sustained good behaviour has been demonstrated.

"What we are doing at Parc is not different from methods used in prisons in the private and public sector.

"Some prisoners may complain about their lot, but that can happen when a person has a lot of spare time on their hands."