What can prisoners spend money on UK

What can prisoners spend money on UK

What Can Prisoners Spend Money On in the UK?

Introduction In the UK, prisoners are allocated a personal spend account, which they can use to purchase various items. Understanding what inmates can spend money on is crucial for both prisoners and their families. This article covers the range of items and services available for purchase in UK prisons.

The Prisoner Spend Account System

Funding the Account Inmates receive money in their spend accounts from prison wages earned through assigned jobs or from external sources like family and friends, adhering to strict prison guidelines.

Managing the Account Prisoners manage their accounts within set spending limits, established by the prison authorities to ensure fair access to all inmates.

Essential Personal Care and Hygiene Products

Hygiene Supplies Personal care items such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and other basic toiletries are available for purchase, helping inmates maintain personal hygiene and dignity.

Laundry Services In some prisons, laundry services can be paid for through the spend account, allowing inmates to maintain clean clothing.

Food and Snack Items

Supplementary Food Products Prisoners can buy additional food items, including snacks and confectionery, to supplement their regular prison meals.

Special Dietary Needs Inmates with specific dietary requirements may have access to special food products that cater to their health or religious needs.

Clothing and Apparel

Underwear and Socks Basic clothing items such as underwear, socks, and t-shirts are typically available, with some variations depending on the prison’s policy.

Seasonal Clothing Prisons may also offer seasonal clothing like hats or gloves, especially in facilities without climate-controlled environments.

Recreational and Educational Materials

Books and Magazines Inmates have access to a variety of reading materials, although content is often screened for appropriateness and security reasons.

Stationery and Art Supplies Prisoners can purchase stationery, including paper, pens, and art supplies, for personal use or to participate in educational courses.

Electronics and Entertainment

Radios and MP3 Players Some prisons allow inmates to buy radios or MP3 players, modified to meet security standards and to not include internet access or recording capabilities.

Television Access Access to television in cells, where available, often requires a rental fee that can be paid from the spend account.

Communication and Connectivity

Phone Credits Purchasing phone credits is crucial for inmates to maintain contact with family and legal representatives.

Postal Supplies Writing materials and postage supplies are available, enabling prisoners to correspond with the outside world.

Health and Wellness

Fitness Equipment Basic fitness equipment, such as resistance bands or small exercise items, may be offered to encourage physical well-being.

Over-the-Counter Medication Some prisons allow the purchase of over-the-counter medications, like pain relievers or vitamins, from the prison shop.

Spending Limits and Restrictions

Weekly Spending Caps Prisons impose weekly or monthly spending caps to ensure equitable access to goods for all inmates and manage the prison economy effectively.

Security Considerations All items sold are vetted for security implications, and anything that poses a risk is not made available for purchase.


In UK prisons, the options for what prisoners can spend money on are diverse, catering to basic needs, personal care, educational pursuits, and limited entertainment. These spending opportunities play a crucial role in maintaining inmate morale, providing a sense of normalcy, and supporting rehabilitation efforts within the controlled environment of the prison system. Understanding these spending options helps families and friends support their incarcerated loved ones more effectively.