SCOTLAND’S most dangerous prisoners have access to thousands of sexually explicit DVDs and violent video games, which experts fear will fuel reoffending rates on their release.
Criminals in the country’s 14 jails, including the specialist sex offenders unit at Peterhead, have access to a catalogue of 5,000 films, with some depicting rape, sexual torture and gun violence.
Young offenders can choose from hundreds of titles, including the graphic Saw films and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
Even in high-security prisons, murderers are allowed to play super-violent console games.
Last month, a judge warned of a link between Turn to Page 6 Continued from Page One video games and violence as he locked up an Xbox-obsessed schoolboy who slashed a friend’s throat.
Ian Stephen, a clinical psychologist at the The Keil Centre in Edinburgh, who has spent many years working in the Scottish prison system, said: ‘Watching films like these feeds into the violence already present in a lot of these institutions, so it could raise significant problems.
‘You have to remember that many of these people are in these prisons for violent crimes.
‘There needs to be some sort of levy or restrictions on films that can be bought in by prisoners or staff.
‘I used to work in the Young Offender’s Institution for many years and these prisoners were involved in education and work programmes, which now seem to have been edged out.’ In their spare time, prisoners in Scotland can watch films about prison escapes, notorious gangster films including Scarface, and even the gruesome Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Inmates in Polmont Young Offenders Institution can choose from nearly 500 titles, including the bloody Saw films, the Godfather trilogy and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
In HM Peterhead, a unit specialising in housing sex offenders, inmates can watch Teeth, which portrays scenes of rape, and Hostel II, in which a naked woman is shown being sexually tortured.
In the high-security Shotts Prison, inmates can borrow serial killer dramas Chopper and Dexter.
Prisoners can also play ‘shootem-up’ console games on Xbox or Playstation.
In Glasgow’s HMP Barlinnie, which houses gangland figures and armed robbers, the inmates can play the extremely violent war game Call of Duty and under-water shooting game Bioshock 2. Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: ‘On the face of it, violent DVDs and games in these institutions is a far from ideal situation.
‘I sincerely hope the prisons monitor and regulate extremely closely who gets to watch or play what.
‘There’s no problem with wellbehaved inmates being allowed the occasional privilege of watching a film or playing a game. ‘But it must be under the right circumstances – and bosses have to be extremely mindful about what is permitted and for whom.’ Many prisoners have TVs in their cells, with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) spending up to £250,000 a year buying sets with built-in DVD players.
Inmates can borrow films from the prison library to watch in their cell. DVDs are either gifted to jails or bought using a ‘common good fund’ financed by profits from the prison shop.
United Kingdom Justice Minister Chris Grayling has already taken steps to ban 18-rated DVDs in prisons south of the Border, while extreme video games are already forbidden in some institutions.
An SPS spokesman said: ‘Any material viewed by prisoners is subject to strict assessment by the prison governor and their management team.
‘Any material that is deemed inappropriate is confiscated.’ In May, a judge highlighted the connection between gaming and aggression after he jailed a schoolboy who attacked his friend.
Lord Turnbull spoke out as he sentenced the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for attempted murder.
The High Court in Livingston, West Lothian, heard that the attacker, who was aged only 13 at the time, had been ‘obsessed’ with the Xbox fighting game Gears of War 3. The 18-rated game rewards players for devising ways of killing opponents.