MORE than a third of Scottish prisoners will have access to satellite television this Christmas, new figures have revealed.
Figures released by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), after a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Tories, revealed 2,631 inmates of Scotland’s 7,840 prison population have access to satellite subscription packages costing a total of £60,540.
The SPS said the packages do not come at any extra expense to the taxpayer, instead coming from contributions from the Common Good Fund, which is made up of donations made to prisoners or from profits from goods available to buy in prison.
The Tories, however, said the figures would come as a blow to victims of crime and their families.
Among the programmes broadcast by satellite channels this Christmas are Happy Feet 2, the new Sherlock Holmes film and all eight Harry Potter movies.
Prisoners will also have access to Idiot Abroad 3 and the US hit Arrow. Sporting coverage includes the English Premiership on the Sky Sports channels as well as Scottish football.
The Conservative Party’s chief whip, John Lamont, said: “This will be galling for the thousands of law-abiding people who would like to be able to afford such luxury packages.
“There is a clear impression that modern prisons in Scotland are like a holiday camp and do little to rehabilitate, let alone punish.
“The concept of convicted criminals relaxing to watch festive films and the best sporting action will do nothing to banish that image.”
He added: “Instead of kicking back in their cells in front of The Muppets and an Idiot Abroad, prisoners should be given full-time work or training.
“That would actually give them a chance of a productive existence once released.”
The prisons where inmates can access paid-for TV include Glenochil, Greenock, Low Moss, the Open Estate, Perth and Shotts.
The SPS said: “The cost of subscription television is met by contributions from the prisoners Common Good Fund and the additional income from contributions from the prisoners’ weekly charge, for the use of In-Cell television.
“The Common Good Fund comprises donations made to prisoners or from ‘profits’ made from various goods and confectionary which are available to buy in prison.
“There is no cost to the taxpayer.”