back to article BT cuts phone charges for prisoners

Payphone charges for prisoners in England and Wales have been cut after long-running campaigns by the Prison Reform Trust and the National Consumer Council. The Trust took its complaints to Ofcom last year. The Home Office said at the time it was disappointed at the action and that cutting costs would require a subsidy. Calls …


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  1. Andy ORourke

    Talking of Charges

    I am moving house and my contract for BT total broadband option 3 is up this month, I called to cancel it and they offered me the same option 3 broadband and new hub for just £15.49 per month if I signed up to a new 1 year contract!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good planning by BT Execs !

    At least those that may be a tad worried about a bit of pokey-time themselves. That phorm thing just won't go away will it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes a change...

    Normally Scotland seems to get the best deal out of this united kingdom (no tuition charges for example), nice to see them getting the shitty end from a PLC in exchange :-)

  4. Master Baker


    I read that wrong at first - I thought it said 'BT cuts phone charges for pensioners', not prisoners.

    Next it will be cutting charges for illegals and minority groups....... :-P

  5. Ben Boyle
    Thumb Down

    @Andy O'Rourke

    My contract just came to an end too and I told them to go phuck themselves ;)

    Oddly enough the gyuy I spoke to knew exactly what "WebWise" was and didn't argue at all apart from asking whether price was a phactor.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good news

    This is good news for anyone (hint, hint, government: this includes you) concerned with issues of social cohesion. Or even just concerned on a humanitarian level that families have a chance to stay together.

    The average prisoner has less than £12 disposable cash each week. £1 goes on the (almost compulsory) TV license fee and much of the rest is spent on phone calls.

    But that's still less than 30 minutes of communication if all your partner / children / parents have is a mobile phone.

    30 free minutes a week to the phones of close family would create a far better system for keeping them together. And the money saved from fewer broken families and homes would pay for the deal in no time.

  7. Lee Sexton
    Thumb Down


    I'm fed up with this ill informed argument about charges on students. We have a DEFERRED payment for fees not free. When the coalition government happened with Labour (in favour of keeping student fees upfront) and Lib Dems (in favour of scrapping) they came to a comprimise and have decided for good publicity to fool people like you into believing its free, peerhaps next time you should do your homework?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How generous

    Standard payphone charges:

    The minimum fee is 40p (includes 20p connection charge). Local and National calls are charged at 40p for the first 20 minutes, then 10p for each subsequent 10 minutes or portion thereof.

    So prisoners are paying at least five times as much per minute.

    "He said the majority of calls from prison phones are cheaper on average than if made at a public payphone." Presumably because most prisoners are talking for less than four minutes. But they are still being royally ripped off.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Obviously they have a captive market

  10. Steve


    And i thought most prisoners ahd mobile fines smuggled in any way!!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy ORourke

    Funny you should mention that. Since my broadband contract ran out I have had five (yes, five) letters from BT offering me discounts should I wish to 'renew'.

    I have ignored them all as I am of course reserving my option to give them 3 to 5 seconds notice of termination should they choose to deploy the illegal Phorm system.

    Meanwhile I am wondering about the legality of forcing customers without a contract period to accept higher charges, which is basically what this is (as distinct from an 'introductory offer').

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And moreover

    I wouldn't get excited about the Hub, as

    (a) they don't work properly

    (b) they send you one even if you expressly tell them not to.

  13. n
    IT Angle

    are there any downsdies to prison?

    This will make it cheaper for them to run their crime syndicates or do book deals from their prison cell.

    well done idiots.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one

    who thinks it's ridiculous that prisoners get a 'spending allowance' each week?! They're in there for a reason FFS! It's getting more and more like a holiday camp -- I'm just waiting for the next T Cook brochure -- Summer 09 'Credit Crunch' breaks. AI and spending money included, guarantee that lounger will be available...

  15. Craig Collier

    Not being funny but....

    They are prisoners - it should cost them MORE than it does for us, because we HAVEN'T broken the law, and are citizens who should be entitled to BENEFITS for not being criminals.

    Don't want to take this too far, but really, i don't care if "those who have consistent contact with family are less likely to re-offend".

    Consider this:

    I am less likely to offend AT ALL, if you make MY life cheaper and make prison life less appealing, i.e. MORE expensive, MORE prohibitive, and MORE money consuming. If by going to prison i would be completely financially ruined, much like some people i know who aren't criminals, then i would certainly NEVER offend, no matter how big the carrot being dangled in front of me. Who cares if they have no money, that's their own fault.

    /end rant

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Allegation of corruption in HMPS

    > This will make it cheaper for them to run their crime

    > syndicates or do book deals from their prison cell.

    As prisoners can only call numbers that have been pre-approved by Security (and each prisoner is limited to five registered numbers) you are actually making a serious accusation of corruption in the Security Dept of most prisons.

    Evidence, or withdrawal of claim, please.

  17. Efros

    They should thinke themselves lucky

    The penal system here in Maine forces prisoners to use reverse charge calls, this along with a no smoking rule makes Maine prisons interesting places, from what I've heard..

  18. Jonathan Lancaster

    @lee Sexton

    No, the graduate endowment has now been scrapped. Scottish students studying in Scotland pay no tuition fees. EU students studying in Scotland also pay no fees, it's just those south of the border who end up paying, as usual.

  19. delboy

    @ n

    "This will make it cheaper for them to run their crime syndicates or do book deals from their prison cell.

    well done idiots."

    Get a grip, every phone call is recorded.

    Fo those with no idea:

    £12 wage (for 40 hours work and thats a top wage)

    -£1 towards tv licence.

    -£3 on average for toiletries.

    -£6 for tobacco (the majority of prisoners smoke)

    leaves appoximately £2 for a phone card, now if your wife and kids have only mobiles, your hardly getting a chance to hold a descent conversation at all, Visits are limited and for a lot they are rare due to being transferred to prisons in other parts of the country where family can't make it or afford to travel to.

    I've been there & done that, not proud, but when there's a problem at home and you have 3 minutes to talk about it, it really is unreal. The phone calls were a rip off for years, no one spoke up on our behalf because we were "just prisoners" but one day, one of the people reading this comment will end up there for something or another. So dont be so quick to jump the gun.

  20. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge


    About time too. The shamelessness of BT knows no bounds.

    "i thought most prisoners ahd mobile fines smuggled in any way!!"

    Most of them wouldn't want to bother smuggling in phones (or getting into debt by using phone owners' phones) if the payphone calls were affordable, and they couldn't do it without bent screws anyway.

  21. Piggy and Tazzy
    Thumb Up


    Well said!

    As always, there are those that shout their mouths off without any thought or understanding.

    Nice to see someone (ie: you!) bring a touch of reality back into the discussion.

  22. pctechxp

    Up the charges

    They shouldn't have access to a phone, TV or anything, they did commit a CRIME after all.

    If they did not wish to be separated from family or friends they should not have commited the crime.

  23. Charles Manning

    Need some creative thinking...

    Poor crims... I'm sorry... Freedom Challenged Persons (FCP).

    If they really want to call their families then how about setting up some sort of 800 number for the each FCP which gives them a personal dial out to some designated numbers: wife, kids, mom and dad... and have that account automatically credited with a prepay.

    That way the crims don't have to carry around as much money to be "borrowed" and also less opportunity to make calls to their associates or be coerced into making calls for others.

    Sure, that's not perfect but it is at least a step forward.

  24. Liam
    Thumb Down


    @"are there any downsdies to prison? " - erm, yes....

    average weekly wage when i was there:£2/week.

    i had the best job on the wing when in liverpool. this was a job from 5am to 11pm, 7 days a week. and for that i was given the pricely sum of £9! just because SOME prisons allow tvs etc doesnt mean all do. in liverpool i had 1 visit a month of 60 mins (or 2 30 min ones, but seeing as my family lived 300 miles away that isnt very useful is it?

    phone cards are £2 each (well, they were). that £2 basically bought me a 5 minute conversation with my mrs.

    and not all cons are in for really dodgy crimes. i got 18 months for having some pills on me. yet a few years later drs actually fully acknowledge that E was, my a magnitude, much better for you than alcohol.

    now, stop reading the frikkin daily mail. all you hear there is sensationalist guff. many prisons still dont even have electricity in their cells, are routinely stolen from by prison staff and spend upto 23 hours a day in their cells.

    @"who thinks it's ridiculous that prisoners get a 'spending allowance' each week?! They're in there for a reason FFS! It's getting more and more like a holiday camp -- I'm just waiting for the next T Cook brochure -- Summer 09 'Credit Crunch' breaks. AI and spending money included, guarantee that lounger will be available..." - see above that they arent all real criminals. also, how do you expect that they can call home etc? how do you think the prison community would work if they had no money to buy tobacco (ciggies are too expensive)

    prisoners get a pittance for weekly allowance - and some actually work for outsourcing companies. being paid many times under the minimum wage. now, dangerous (i.e. rapists and murderers) get income support whilst in secure mental units. the yorkshire ripper managed to save up close to 50 grand in his account over the years!

  25. Liam

    i take it...

    Charles Manning - i take it you have never gone over the speed limit? or been maybe slightly over the alcohol limit in the morning? as these are crimes. crime doesnt mean all loss of rights and treated like an animal. being incarcerated is bad enough. and also, please stop reading the express, mail et al. they make your brain turn into mush.

    we have bankers in this country to have basically embezzled billions from us all, yet they arent classed as crims. and i wont even go into jacqui Smith... (ooerr, why would anyone want to do that!)

    criminal = political name.

  26. andy gibson


    £3 a week on toiletries? What the hell are they spending it on? No wonder homosexuality is rife in prison if they're tarting themselves up with Lynx shower gel and body spray.

  27. Liam

    @ andy gibson

    remember that the prison has a hefty markup on anything it sells. things are often much more expensive in there than outside at places like tesco!

    but i agree - £3 sounds like a lot to me! you couldnt even buy gel when i was there! so no way of tarting up my hair for a visit from the mrs!

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