News story

Toughening up prisoner privileges

Major new changes to the way prisoners receive privileges will be implemented over the next six months.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Significant reforms are being made to toughen up the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme in male adult prisons throughout England and Wales.

Prisoners will actively have to work towards their own rehabilitation and help others if they are to earn privileges - they will not receive them through good behaviour alone.

The major changes follow a review of the existing scheme which was ordered by Ministers last year.

There are currently three privilege levels for prisoners - Basic, Standard and Enhanced. A new IEP level, Entry, is being introduced for all prisoners in the first two weeks of sentence where privileges will be restricted, and uniforms will be compulsory. Prisoners who do not engage will move to Basic, while those who do will progress to Standard.

The regime will change so that convicted prisoners will work a longer day. They will not be allowed to watch television when they should be working or engaged in purposeful activity. Certificate 18 DVDs will be banned, subscription channels will be removed from private prisons and gym access will depend on engagement with rehabilitation.

Prison rules will also change to ensure more power is given to recover money from prisoners to pay for damage to prison property.

Justice Secretary Chris 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. 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.’

Tightening up prisoner privileges

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said:

‘This is a big change for the prison system. Prisoners will now have to actively contribute to their own rehabilitation, help others and continue to behave well if they are to earn privileges above the basic level.’

He added:

‘In short, prisoners who refuse to work or engage in their own rehab will not earn privileges until they do. The IEP system should support all this Government is seeking to achieve in improving rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.’

The IEP scheme will apply to adult male prisoners in both public and private prisons.

Published 30 April 2013