Prison bosses splash out on LCD televisions for inmates


PRISON bosses have come under fire over plans to buy new state of the art televisions for jails across the country.

The Scottish Prison Service has put out a tender for a two-year contract to supply around 3,200 new televisions for all but two of Scotland’s prisons.

It states that they will only accept new energy-efficient LCD models with in-built DVD players to meet “green targets”.

Although the tender doesn’t contain a guide price, estimations show that even £150 budget models would set them back £48,000.

The plans have been criticised by politicians, who say that prisoners shouldn’t be able to enjoy equipment that ordinary “law abiding people” can’t afford.

Scottish Conservatives’ justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: “There are many decent law-abiding people who would not be able to afford TVs of this type, and yet we make them available to people who, in many instances, have committed crimes of violence or gross dishonesty.

“It is frankly scandalous.”

SPS insisted that new LCD televisions were the most energy efficient and wouldn’t be paid for by the taxpayers.

They charge inmates £1 a week to watch television.

But prisoners use their wage of up to £4 a week to pay for privileges.

Scottish Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: “Given the fact that we’re about to have a budget where there will be swinging cuts announced, no doubt to important areas of the justice department budget, including the prison service, I cannot accept that this is appropriate use of public money.

“These figures make it clear that the prison authorities are looking at buying 1600 flat-screen TV’s a year for Scotland’s prisoners.

“This amounts to nearly a quarter of a million pounds and will shock the law abiding majority in this country.

“Many of my constituents can’t afford new televisions and particularly not swanky 19 inch flat-screen affairs. What sort of message does this send?

“The SNP government need to get a grip on this situation and ensure that more work and study is provided for inmates.

“At the moment the government does not even know how many convicts are engaged in work. It simply isn’t good enough.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “We are seeking a future supply of in-cell televisions which are energy efficient to meet SPS green targets.

“These will be used as required throughout Scottish prisons, including new-build prisons at Shotts and Low Moss.

“Prisoners are charged £1 per week for televisions and we have around 7,800 prisoners at the moment.

“There is no cost to the taxpayer.”

It has already been revealed that SPS have spent around £10,000 each year since 2005 to fund computer games and satellite television for prisoners.

REPORT: Cara Sulieman