No Sky TV, no Xbox: prisoners' perks to be axed as Chris Grayling gets tough on jails

  • @oliver_wright

Thousands of prisoners could lose their automatic access to gym equipment, games consoles and other perks under plans for a tough new regime in Britain’s jails.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is finalising proposals that will be announced in the next couple of months to combat right-wing complaints that prisons are too lax.

Under the plans it will become harder for prisoners to earn the right to perks such as having games consoles in their cells. Ministers are also planning to increase the threshold of “good behaviour”, requiring prisoners to work or enrol in education courses in order to receive privileges.

Sky television will be banned in private prisons and discussions are under way into whether it is practical to make thousands of inmates wear prison uniform rather than their own clothes.

However, the moves are likely to alarm prison governors at a time of overcrowding and budget cuts. They are concerned that it could lead to inmates being locked in their cells for longer, increasing  tension among prisoners.

Peter McParlin, national chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association, said ministers should proceed with care as the changes may lead to unrest. “I think there is potentially a danger there could be a reaction from prisoners depending how this is implemented,” he said.