What can prisoners buy in jail

What can prisoners buy in jail

What Can Prisoners Buy in Jail in the UK?

Introduction In the UK, prisoners are provided with a range of items they can purchase within the jail. Understanding what is available for purchase in a prison canteen or shop is important for both inmates and their families. This article explores the variety of items prisoners can buy in UK jails.

Overview of the Prison Canteen System

Function of the Prison Canteen The prison canteen, also known as the prison shop, operates within the jail to provide inmates with access to various goods. This system allows inmates to purchase items using funds from their prison account.

Funding the Inmate’s Account Inmates can receive money from their prison wages, which are earned through work in the prison, or from family and friends through approved channels.

Common Items Available for Purchase

Personal Care and Hygiene Products Basic personal care items such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant are commonly available. These items are essential for maintaining personal hygiene in jail.

Food and Snack Items A selection of food items, including snacks like crisps, chocolates, and biscuits, can be purchased. This allows inmates to supplement their standard prison meals.

Clothing and Accessories

Basic Clothing Items Inmates have access to basic clothing items like underwear, socks, and t-shirts. The availability of these items can vary based on the prison’s policies.

Accessories and Stationery Some jails allow the purchase of additional items like watches, hats, and stationery supplies, which inmates can use for writing letters or personal organization.

Entertainment and Recreational Items

Books and Magazines Prisoners can buy books and magazines, subject to certain content restrictions. These materials provide a valuable source of entertainment and education.

Games and Hobby Supplies Depending on the jail, inmates may have access to games like playing cards, puzzle books, and hobby supplies to keep themselves occupied during their incarceration.

Electronic Goods and Appliances

Limited Electronics In some jails, prisoners are permitted to buy limited electronic items like radios or headphones. These items are typically subject to security modifications to ensure they meet safety standards.

Small Electrical Appliances Items such as kettles or fans might be available, allowing inmates to have some added comfort in their cells.

Communication Tools

Writing Materials and Postage Supplies Prisoners can purchase writing materials like paper, envelopes, and stamps to maintain contact with family and friends outside the jail.

Phone Credits Inmates can also buy phone credits, which are essential for staying in touch with loved ones and legal representatives.

Health and Fitness Products

Exercise Equipment Some jails offer basic exercise equipment for purchase, such as resistance bands, to encourage physical fitness.

Health Supplements Health supplements, like vitamins, are sometimes available, especially if they are deemed necessary for the inmate’s health.

Restrictions and Regulations

Security Considerations All items sold in the prison canteen are subject to security considerations. Items that could pose a risk, such as those that can be easily weaponized, are not available.

Canteen Spending Limits Prisons often impose weekly or monthly spending limits to ensure fair access to goods for all inmates.


The range of items that prisoners can buy in UK jails serves to meet basic needs, provide comfort, and offer limited recreational activities. These items, available through the prison canteen, help maintain a level of normalcy and dignity for inmates during their incarceration. Understanding what is available and the regulations surrounding these purchases is important for inmates and their families alike.