Blood, borstal and black death: Scottish prisoners’ DVD choices revealed


ONE of Scotland’s toughest jail has revealed its top five movies – and a tale about the bubonic plague, starring Eddie Redmayne, tops the list.

It seems inmates at HMP Shotts like nothing better than to settle down with a DVD of Black Death, a 2010 movie which opens on a plague victim with blood pouring from his armpits. Other favourite moments include graphic disembowelment and a man being pulled apart by horses.

The North Lanarkshire jail, which holds prisoners serving at least four years, features revenge flick Blood Out in second place.

Third place goes to The Experiment, about a real-life psychological experiment in the US that went so brutally wrong it had to be ended after six days.

Inmates seem to have little appetite for light relief when it comes to their DVD viewing
Inmates seem to have little appetite for light relief when it comes to their DVD viewing


Mercenaries – a film in which the daughter of a US President is captured and imprisoned in a warzone – and Borstal Boy, about a 16-year-old Irishman who goes to Liverpool on a bombing mission, take fourth and fifth.

Shotts, who inmates are reported to include David Gilroy, the murderer of Edinburgh office worker Suzanne Pilley, released its DVD hit list under Freedom of Information.

Outside the top five but on the list of 367 DVDs available are Goodfellas, Hannibal and several series of Dexter, about a blood-spatter expert who is himself a serial killer.

For occasional light relief, Shotts prisoners also have access to Clifford’s Really Big Movie, a selection of Children’s Favourites, Happy Birthday Mr Bean, and David Attenborough’s The Private Life of Plants.

The Scottish Prison Service released details of DVD collections at other jails but only Shotts was able to produce a list of the most popular.

Those doing time at Low Moss, Glasgow, can watch all four series of Prison Break.

HMP Barlinnie, also in Glasgow, offers prisoners the chance to watch a Serial Killers documentary which includes the story of the Yorkshire Ripper and Fred and Rose West.

Inmates at HMP Inverness can watch Lady Killers, 16 Years of Alcohol, Murder at 1600 and the ever-gruesome Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Glenochil, near Stirling, has one of the most surprising DVD collections featuring Sex in the City and even the Disney classic Frozen.

Cornton Vale, Scotland’s only women’s prison, features a much softer movie catalogue including Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, He’s Just Not That Into You, How to lose a Guy in 10 Days, Never Been Kissed, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging, and Legally Blonde.

Most prisons rely on film donations from the public to extend their DVD collection. Others, such as Edinburgh, access movies through the local library, and the rest purchase DVD’s through their Common Goods Fund.

Some prisons, including Greenock and Perth, say they do not provide inmates with films to watch.

Asked why so many violent movies were available, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “Offenders accessing DVDs for viewing is a privilege and at the Governor’s discretion.”