British Prisons Ban Game Systems Over Terrorism Fears

September 11, 2007 -
There won't be any Halo 3 action upcoming at Wormwood Scrubs - or any other prisons in the U.K., for that matter.

According to The Sun, fears that prisoners might utilize the communications abilities of modern game systems have led to a ban on some of the devices:
Top brass barred the Xbox360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo DS systems after discovering they contain software that enables users to send or receive radio signals.

Security experts fear they could be used by terror suspects to talk to accomplices and plot carnage.

They also warned in a report seen by The Sun that the earlier PlayStation 2 — currently allowed in jails — could be modified for covert chats...

Th Sun quoted an unnamed security expert:
The technology in the new generation of computer games makes them a security risk. There is concern that top terror suspects have been using systems already in jails. Radio software is an integral part of the equipment.

Via: Next Generation 
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I guess when you have a lot of time on your hands, you'll do anything to talk to other people.

Prison = loss of freedom

I don't see a problem with it. I'm actually surprised they are allowed to have them in prison anyway.

Game systems shouldn't be banned in prison because of security concerns. Game systems should be banned in prison because prison is supposed to suck.

I think prisons should only be allowed to play the games that the
AVGN reviews.

Prisinors have made reusable firearms from plumbing part, I think there right to be paranoid.

"Yeah, those seemed like a good idea in 1930s Germany too"

Please tell me you aren't comparing innocent Jewish civilians to worthless criminals. I must be missing your point, that is the only explanation.

But yes. I think a few more criminals in this country need to be given a "shower".

It amazes me that prisons have video game systems and cable TV. These are things many hard-working people can't even afford. In some ways prisoners have it easier than many college kids.

software that enables users to send or receive radio signals

Software? Those game discs make radios all the time! I must have skipped the day in CompSci in how software makes intelligible radio signals. I always thought it was transistors or something. Besides, don't they know that the 360 doesn't come with WiFi in any of the models?

In all seriousness, radio waves are emitted from the built-in WiFi antennas in the PSP, Wii, PS3 & DS. Sure, software is telling it what to say, but the antenna itself is making the noise.

Heh I'll be laughing when I see Jack Thompson use this for his own ajenda.

JT: Video games are creating the terrorists of tomorrow.

But seriosly terrorists shouldn't be allowed to play video games in our post 9/11 world.

Well, maybe I'm a little bit nuts; but I'm inclined to think prison shouldn't have 500+ $ luxury items anyway, and VG consoles would certainly qualify. Don't misunderstand me, I wouldn't advocate unnecessarily cruel treatment, but denial of video games does not qualify as cruel. Whatever happened to the days when prisoners would read books?

i concur.

give them a damn book.

Yes, give them books. But not just any books. Want to rub salt in the wounds? Give them player's guides and gaming magazines. Show them all the fantastic stuff they can't play while behind bars. Mwahahaha.

Personally, I don't think that prisoners should have any entertainment besides books. I also believe that most of the books should be of a somewhat educational type.

To me the reason that most prisoners end up going back to jail is that while they are there, the gain no useful skills. They just sit around playing games and watching tv when they are not doing laundry.

There are a lot that needs to be done to fix the prison system and this could be a good place to start.

That's the phrase that scares me most about this: "Top brass barred the Xbox360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo DS systems after discovering they contain software that enables users to send or receive radio signals."

In particular the words "discovering". How can you "discover" something that is printed on the box, on the instruction manual, is all over the net, etc. Did they not do any research at all into what to put into jails?

It is indicitive of the gap between the current older generation and the new, tech savvy one which grew up with video games. Whereas we have embraced the medium and watched it grow and mature, the older generation hear video games or Nintendo and all they think is "toys for children".

I guess they discovered it like how Columbus discovered the Americas.

This does seem a bit ridiculous. Even though the 360 has no wifi out of the box, it still gets banned, but they rule out putting on "parental controls" on sending messages to people?

I concur with your last paragraph, Shoehorn.

I don't have a problem with giving prisoners access to TV, movies or games as rewards for good behavior. Incentives help. But yeah, that discovering bit is quite good. Columbus, heh. Anyways, back to my point. It's not like the consoles would be in their cells, they should be kept in common areas anyways; just like the library computers, anyone can see what you are doing there.

All of a sudden, I felt hundreds of people shouting "Oh GOD, no!" at this message, as soon, I bet JT's going to try and lower gamers -even more- to the point we're considered terrorists.


Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that books are the ONLY form of entertainment they should get either. I would not be opposed to simple/basic kinds of things. TV's in common gathering areas in the prison with basic cable only. I wouldn't be against listen-only devices. AM/FM radios and headsets so they could listen to music. I wouldn't be against a music-library they could check out with the books.

I forget who said it, there's a philosopher somewhere who said something about you can tell things about a society by how they treat their prisoners. There's some truth to that, whatever it says about me, there are limits to my sympathy. Prison is supposed to be an unpleasant place, it's supposed to be a punishment, and I fail to see why the taxpayers should have to pay for undue luxury for people in prison. It's true that prison isn't exactly a walk-in-the-park-with-daisies-as-is; but when we're buying consoles that cost 500+ dollars for them and games at 50 a pop, well, that's just over the top for me.

Wanna play games? That's cool - straighten up; get your life right - get out and buy one like the rest of us.

/agree Shoehorn

@ CyberSkull

You'd think that they would be caught immediately trying to do something in a "public area", but even kept in common rooms and such, I could see consoles being used for this sort of thing without being noticed. Think about who's watching them...the same people who just "discovered" what the hardware is capable of. Why would we expect these same dismissive oldtimers to recognize the difference between a game with or without chat functionality?

Seriously, video games for prisoners? I'd be up in arms if I found out my government was using tax dollars to buy video games for prisoners.

There's a simpler solution for this, take the farking WiFi antenna out of the device. Problem solved.

why did prisoners (that have terror related tendancies apperantly) get to play video game?

in american all they get is cable, tivo, and mabye some HBO/payperview

Ah the old 'PS2 can launch nukes' argument, back again.


What they 'get' depends on the facility in the US. and yes, the prison system does sometimes pay for inmates to be able to watch Flight of the Conchords.

keeping prisoners occupied is a key problem in prisons. All they have is time on their hands. Now, yes you can have educational programs, but some are not suited to that. And even having them pull kitchen and laundary duty still leaves a LOT of time doing nothing. Personally, I'd rather they are sitting playing computer games than lifting weights... if they come out and are likely to re-offend, I'd rather they be as fat and out of shape as the rest of us. :-)

If prisons do not allow cell phones or pagers or wi-fi PCs, they shouldn't allow these devices.

However, these machines do only communicate via WiFi or hard wired Ethernet connections. Both of which are easily controllable in a prison environment (I would hate to try to get a good WiFi signal with all that metal around).

Is this a practical covert communication system? Will banning these devices stop covert communications? At least game consoles are fairly large - a modern cell phone can be small enough to be easily concealed... and send SMS messages like mad.

Terroristgamer357: "Dood we are gonna PWN the london underground"

To those crying "our taxdollars are buying them games!?!?"

in the case of the prison system it's used as a reward for good behavior. If an inmate is well behaved, they get rewards for their good behavior, cable, television, games, if not, well, that stuff is denied or taken away.

"in the case of the prison system it’s used as a reward for good behavior. If an inmate is well behaved, they get rewards for their good behavior, cable, television, games, if not, well, that stuff is denied or taken away."

I'm holding firm to the "its prison its supposed to suck". Good behavior be damned. If they have good behavior then maybe they will get a decent meal. If they don't act in a civil manner, bread and water.

@ Erik
You know it's called a "correctional facility" and not a "fuck you facility" for a reason, it's not just supposed to punish people for bad behavior it's supposed to correct their behavior so they don't repeat it, thus permanently reducing the burden society has to pay for them. Honestly I don't see any big problem with games in prisons, if it is a security issue such as this case fine, you can't be too careful about that kind of thing, however, prison does suck by the very nature that it's prison, you're in a giant concrete structure that you're not allowed to leave, let them play video games, hell let them have a LAN party for all I care, they're still in prison.


Pretty much what I was going to say once I got my head together. There are a good amount of inmates who are truly remorseful and regret their crimes, and know they have a debt to pay for their crimes. It's the loudmouth gangbangers, the inmates who truly don't give a fuck that deserve the harsh treatment, those who don't want help that get it bad. The ones who do want to correct a behavior and want to get out of the system that deserve a little something for their effort.

"You know it’s called a “correctional facility” and not a “fuck you facility” for a reason, it’s not just supposed to punish people for bad behavior it’s supposed to correct their behavior so they don’t repeat it, thus permanently reducing the burden society has to pay for them."

Then we need to phase out the correctional facilities and build some fuck you facilities.

Just because the goal is to reform rather than to simply punish, that doesn't mean that prisoners should have video games.

My main issue with it is that it's a lot more expensive than other good-behavior rewards. I say reward good behavior with cheaper things: books, TV time, etc. Money saved by not buying video games for people who don't deserve them can be used to up the pay of the correctional officers, who often don't get paid nearly enough for what they do.

I don't think the prison actually bought them videogames, they were probably just allowed to own them and a console (probably sent in by their families) from the outside. I think the most prisons do is provide a basic television set for each cell (or in some, an entire cell-block gets one tv.)

Anyway, the actual ability to use them for private chatting would probably be in many other things

I don't think they should have games anyway - its PRISON FFS. They're supposed to be there to reconsider their lives, not play the latest consoles.


Yeah, those seemed like a good idea in 1930s Germany too

It's the same thing with guns and the Virginia Tech Massacre. I support the second amendment, but not for crazy mofos like Cho. I think it's a right to be able to play video games, but not for terrorists or other murderous people.

It sounds to me like a warden got some FUD and ran with it before bothering to investigate. Easier to ban the consoles than to figure out your friend is an idiot.

In my opinion, this is a good move by the British Prisons. The mere fact that the consoles can indeed be used for communicating should mean the automatic ban of such consoles. It's not really a new issue because any electronic gadget that the prisoners, i believe in any country, can use as means of communication is prohibited. Too bad for the prisoners who honestly just want to play Halo 3 though, but rules are rules.

Prisons are considered rehabilitative, not entirely punitative. Even if for the sake of Political Correctness. So, you know, nowadays prisoners aren't put in a tiny box and fed only bread and water for a week.

Have a heart. Some of these guys are in there for the rest of their lives, and no, not all life sentences are for murder. Distractions of some sort keeps them happy and not rioting and killing each other and guards. I'm not saying it has to be video games but at least books and some tv I don't think is beyond your scope of humanity.


That is actually correct. I completely agree that they need a form of entertainment and the electronic media is a good way to keep them happy. Books, t.v., video games, movies, all of these, in my opinion are fine, as long as it doesn't contain a device that can make them communicate outside of prison. If the prisoners would have a mean to do so, it would be very dangerous. So if consoles like Xbox 360 has access to communication outside prison, I believe its best if they stick with consoles or other forms of entertainment that do not have the communication feature.

I approve, but for different reasons. Prisoners don't deserve games. Let them read and educate themselves with books and the like instead, and when/if they are released they can be more valuable to society with what they have learned.

i dont know who you all think u r, well anyway it has always been easy giving comments when your on the outside..
i dare one of u to face a prisoner...
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