Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/05/24/lag_internet_jail/

Cons should get 'unrestricted' net access - charity

'Unrealistic' says Home Office

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Media, 24th May 2005 09:30 GMT

The Home Office has rejected plans to give lags access to the internet and email while doing porridge.

A report out today by the charity Forum on Prisoner Education (FPE) claims cons should be given "unrestricted access to the internet for 'educational, resettlement, and recreational purposes'".

It argues that the UK should follow other European countries such as Hungary and Switzerland where prisoners have been able to use the internet and email for the last four years.

The report insists that trusting inmates to use the net would help their rehabilitation, enabling them to prepare for life on the outside.

Said FPE director Steve Taylor: "There really is something wrong with our prisons when countries such as Hungary, Greece and Russia provide internet access to prisoners but we do not."

However, the proposals have been branded "unrealistic" by the Government.

A Home Office spokesman told The Register that security as a "very real issue" and that the prison service had a "duty to protect the public from the actions of offenders in our care".

"This includes preventing unwanted and potentially illegal contact between a prisoner and victims/witnesses, stopping sex offenders from 'grooming' children and generally stopping prisoners from being able to engage in any form of criminal activity.

"Unlimited internet access would clearly compromise our ability to perform this duty and we will not take inappropriate security risks that we consider Internet Inside to have seriously underestimated," he said. ®

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