New TVs to bring porn to prisoners

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NEW television sets bound for the cells of Scottish prisoners will deliver over 100 digital channels to inmates, including soft porn.

European regulations stipulate that all 1,600 TVs must have a digital tuner meaning that prison governors will be unable to restrict the content available.

The first 280 TVs are expected in March at Shotts, where some of Scotland’s worst offenders are held.

The recent announcement of the purchase by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) was met by fierce opposition from MSPs who said ordinary members of the public would be disgusted.

Initially, the order was made for televisions which did not have certain digital tuners but last week the SPS changed the specification.

The original tender in February was for 1,000, 14-inch cathode ray televisions but by October this had changed to 1,600, 19-inch flat screen sets and later the built-in DVD feature was requested.

A SPS spokesperson said that EU rules dictated that the TVs must have a digital tuner because the analogue signal will be phased out.

It is also understood that it was cheaper to purchase standard TV sets rather than those that had been specially adapted.

The 19-inch sets will not have a restriction on digital tuners and as a result will be able to receive over 100 Freeview stations 24 hours a day including adult channels such as Babestation.

The spokesperson confirmed that prisoners with television access will be able to watch any station they wish at any hour of the day.

He said: “There is a standard that says if you are producing TV sets for Europe they need digital tuners because analogue is disappearing.”

When asked if the content available to prisoners would be pared down to a central feed, he said: “Those days are over.”

Every television will receive a standard signal from the prison aerials which is then converted by the TV tuner into the full range of digital channels.

The spokesperson did stress that access to a TV was a prisoner privilege.  Those who are allowed to have a set are charged £1 a week, the money collected has been used to purchase the new TVs.

The Labour justice spokesman, Richard Baker saw this as the latest mistake from Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill.

He said: “Prison is not supposed to be a home away from home.  The public will be furious at the thought of offenders being allowed to watch hundreds of Freeview channels of their choice on brand new TVs.

“It would be outrageous if inmates were permitted to view soft pornography and this must not be allowed to happen.”

“The SNP government can’t justify spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on flat screen TVs for the prisons at a time when law abiding people are worried about their jobs in the face of public sector cuts.  This is more evidence of Kenny MacAskill’s soft touch approach to justice.”

Glasgow MSP, Bill Aitken, the Conservative justice spokesman said he intends to pursue the matter with the Justice Secretary.

He said: “Our molly-coddled, undeserving prisoners seem to have every convenience in jails, including the capacity to watch soft porn.  It’s soft touch Scotland personified.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Over 27,000 in-cell TVs have been purchased by the prison service in England and Wales in the past two years and as in Scotland, prisoners have to pay a weekly fee for their use and any purchase of equipment is paid for by prisoners themselves.

“In-cell televisions have been a feature of prison since 1999 under the previous administration.”

She added: “While this is an operational matter for the SPS, the Justice Secretary will ask SPS to provide a full report about the tender.”

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