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Restrictions proposed for prisoner privileges

Prison ‘privileges’ will have to be earned from November, as the Ministry of Justice introduces changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme.

Satellite and cable TV will be banned altogether, and male prisoners in England and Wales will not be allowed TVs in their cells if they are put on ‘basic’ level rather than the standard IEP.

Existing prisoners will not lose privileges they already have unless their status is reviewed.

Other changes include a longer working day for prisoners, a ban on films rated 18 and extra gym time dependent on “active engagement with rehabilitation”. All prisoners will have restricted privileges for the first two weeks of their sentence.

The MoJ said there would also be a change to prison rules “increasing our power to recover money from prisoners to pay for damage to prison property”.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “I want a regime that sends the right messages – turn your life around and there'll be some incentives in prisons, but if you don't engage, if you behave badly, then you'll lose things.”

Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon told BBC News: “No-one wants to see 'doing time' equal wasting time. But the word 'privileges' is misleading and it implies there is a lot of luxury in prison, whereas that really is not the case.

“There is no evidence at all to show that a so-called tough approach works.

“But to be more effective, you have to focus on employment and skills training, on making sure people have safe housing to go to and that they have good contact with their family. Those are the three things that cut reconviction rates… not getting rid of tellies.”

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