The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue September 2013

Quids in for prison TVs

From D J – HMP Bure

Given MPs  Mr Philip Davis and Mr Grayling’s recent concerns about how much television convicts watch, I thought your readers might be interested in how much revenue our TV rentals bring in.  Following a Freedom of Information request (83636/13) I asked the following questions:

  1. In the last full tax year how much revenue did the MoJ gain from prisoners’ television rental?
  2. In the last full tax year what was the purchase expenditure on televisions?
  3. What is the unit cost of prison television sets?

The MoJ refused to answer my third question on the grounds that it could ‘weaken competitive bidding process, but they did answer questions 1 and 2 as follows:

Financial Year     

   2009/10             2010/11               2011/12               2012/13

Rental receipts  

£2,115,315,00    £2,150,402,00     £2,160,788,00      £2,139,598,00


£4,571,063,00    £5,274,497,00     £4,618,851,00      £1,330,404,00

So whilst for the last 3 years the MOJ has made no profit from the TVs whilst they have been funding the cost of the digital switchover, in the years prior to this our TVs produced a profit of over £800,000 each year. A total of almost £13million in the last 15-16 years and another £800,000+ each year going forward. Not bad for what was probably an initial £2million pound (£40 per set) investment.  MPs should think about that before they start demonising us in the tabloid press for daring to watch TV in prison.

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Comments about this letter

9/9/2013 commonsense

A tv licence in civvy street is over £100 a year. Prisoners gets theirs for £52. And bear in mind you also dont pay towards electricity for running them.

Not a bad deal really...

10/9/2013 Tim Hargreaves -

TAXPAYERS paid £7.2million for televisions in prisons over the past four years.The cost of letting inmates watch TV in their cells in 139 jails in England and Wales, was revealed after a Freedom of Information request.

The Prison Service had said the cost was met by inmates who pay around £1 a week. But over the period they paid just £8.6million. The shortfall was met by taxpayers.

From April 2009 to March 2013 the Ministry of Justice spent £15,794,815 on TVs. It is thought higher costs were linked to replacing analogue sets in the digital switchover.

10/9/2013 Wayne

You buy a TV licence for the building your residing in so the cost of having a TV licence would be spread over 200-1500 people depending which prison your in which is negligible, and besides, their is no law that states you have to own a TV so its your own choice whether you pay for a TV licence, or is that the fault of prisoners too?

10/9/2013 Errol

As has been added by Wayne, the prisons are covered by a blanket licence deal. As for the cost of electricity a flat screen TV would save 90% on electricity and be safer from a security point of view (no high voltages and no glass) however tabloid readers and people like you scream from the rooftops as if a flat screen was an improvement or luxury over the CRT TVs; so the cost of power is down to you.

On a more sensible level TVs serve the purpose of calming prisoners, are a bargaining point behaviour wise, and keep prisoners abreast of what is happening in the real world (part of their rehabilitation).

The £1 per week prisoners have to pay for a TV is pro-rata about £20 in the 'real' world.

14/9/2013 commonsense

I said nothing about flat screens.

The pro rata rate, or blanket license, is irrelevant. If I MAKE A CHOICE to change my job to, lets say, an apprenticeship only earning 100 quid a TV licence doesnt go down nor do most of my other living costs.

Try living in the real world where your oitgoing are more than your income...sorry but I have zero sympathy.

30/9/2013 Serendipity

@Commonsense you also said nothing of any value.. If your outgoings are more than your income then that's YOUR problem not some wo/man sat in an 8 x 6 cell..

I see nothing wrong with TVs in prisons, some people need to just get their head out of their arse and ditch the holier-than-thou attitude!

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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for September 2013
Budgets and waste
Why should a uniform entitle you to special treatment
Thank you, Charles
Starving in prison
How can he not talk to sex offenders
Devil’s advocate’ in Parole Board
Tattoos are Mafia related
Exercise v Staff training days
Equal rights
Complaining – A waste of time at HMP Haverigg
Become a victim of crime and next stop House of Lords
Gluten free diet
Brace yourselves
Get real, and be glad for what you’ve got
Homophobia – a challenge
No photos
Collective punishment
Current page: Quids in for prison TVs
Use the words In Denial and there will be consequences
Can this really be justice
COMP1 system a farce at Parkhurst
This is jail
Kids in adult jails is wrong
God bless Ian Tomlinson, but curse his killer
Hit them where it really hurts
Can’t count, won’t count
You wouldn’t treat a dog like this
Private sector money-grabbing carpetbaggers
I hate your queen and country and all it stands for
HMP Long Lartin ‘radicalising extremists’


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