UK

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling To Ban Violent Films From Prisons In Clampdown On Perks

30/04/2013 06:11 BST | Updated 29/06/2013 10:12 BST

Prisoners are to be banned from watching violent and sexually explicit films as part of a clampdown on perks behind bars.

Certificate 18-rated movies, which include Saw, Hostel and Reservoir Dogs, will no longer be screened at jails in England and Wales under changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme.

The changes, announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, will also see subscription channels removed from private prisons, and inmates will have to earn the right to wear their own clothes.

The IEP scheme allows prisoners to work up specific levels of privileges through good behaviour and, in turn, lose the perks if they fail to meet acceptable standards.

Following a review of the scheme, prisoners will have to earn privileges by working and taking part in education, not through the avoidance of bad behaviour.

Mr Grayling said: "It is not right that some prisoners appear to be spending hours languishing in their cells and watching daytime television while the rest of the country goes out to work.

"For too long, there has been an expectation that privileges are an automatic right, given simply as a reward for staying out of trouble. This cannot continue."

Other major changes include a new privileges level - entry - for all prisoners in their first two weeks of sentence where perks, including access to private cash, will be restricted.

At the end of the entry level period, prisoners who do not co-operate with the regime will drop to basic level, those who do will progress to standard.

All male prisoners will be required to wear prison uniform while on entry level, the MoJ said.

Prison regimes are also to change so inmates work a longer day and will not be allowed to watch television when they should be working.

A national list of activities and items available for each perks level, from which governors may choose what is appropriate for their prison, will be drawn up.

Mr Grayling added: "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 reoffending."

The scheme will be implemented over the next six months, the MoJ said.

Responding to the changes, Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said they are "unlikely to get prisoners out of bed and into work or training".

She said: "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."

She added: "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."