British Prison Bans PS3 Over WiFi Capability – UPDATED

The subject of game consoles in prisons is invariably a controversial one.

Some think that convicts don’t deserve what might be considered a luxury. Others believe the relaxation afforded by gaming might make prison a safer place.

But U.K. newspaper The Guardian reports that officials at Britain’s Rye Hill prison have removed PlayStations 3s from the inmate population over fears that prisoners will use the system’s built-in WiFi capability to communicate with those on the outside. A prison official told The Guardian:

PlayStation 3 consoles are barred on the grounds that they have the capability to send and receive radio signals as an integral part of the equipment.

Some inmates were said to be chatting with friends. No information is provided on how those inmates obtained access to a WiFi signal, which might seem to be at least as important an issue, if not more so.

GamePolitics readers may recall that a similar issue was raised last month by Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency.

UPDATE: IncGamers contacted the British Ministry of Justice and learned that Internet-capable consoles are already banned. This is not the first time that there has been confusion in the U.K. on this issue.

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  1. Michael Chandra says:

    Do you often put words in people their mouth or only when you can’t think of an actual proper response?

  2. Conster says:

    By humane, I mean humane. You’re taking things to an extreme here. Prisons are no longer cages where people are tin to rot away. They may have taken things a bit too far, but you’re acting as if prisoners should be treated like animals, regardless of their crimes. Not everyone in prison is there for mugging, assault, rape or murder, and even in those cases, we rise above them by not chaining them to a wall and feeding them moldy bread and rain water.

    When my father was in prison in the Netherlands (for a victimless crime), we had to send him money so he could pay for different food than was normally served, because he needed it because of his diabetes. The fact that he was able to use Photoshop to send us custom holiday cards seems unimportant in comparison. I read your words and they sound like those of an ignorant and/or hateful person.

  3. jedidethfreak says:

    By humane, you mean prisoners need to be treated better than they treated their victims?  They need to be better off than our own military personel?  Taxpayers need to give prisoners anything they want, right?  All for the sake of being humane?


    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  4. michaelleung says:

    There shouldn’t be consoles in jail to being with. I thought it was to give them time to think about their own actions. Instead, they’re playing inFamous and communicating with their partners on the outside to call hits on witnesses and whatever. What has prison become?

  5. Michael Chandra says:

    Question for you: What do they pay for that console? What privileges do they have for the rest, how much do they have to pay (and either earn or get from family) to buy for some of those? If you can answer those questions, feel free to state an opinion based on those, but seriously, first learn what you’re talking about, THEN talk bullshit.

  6. jedidethfreak says:

    Oh, well.  The PS3 sucks donkey balls anyway.


    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  7. hellfire7885 says:

    Eh, an easy solution would be to pay someone to open them up and remove the wireless antenna. Voids the waranty, but also discourages them from breaking them apart to make weapons out of the parts.

  8. State says:

    Prisons in the UK are already regarded as palaces with many luxuries, computer games being one of them. Let’s also remember that many prisoners are from deprived areas and are unlikely to have such items at home, so they can quite clearly see a positive of imprisonment. Being in prison is meant to be worse than freedom, not the other way around. Prisons are there to rehabilitate people and act as a deterrent, supplying computer games to prisoners goes against the reasons for prisons existing in the first place.

    Many people in the free world can’t afford PS3s but they’re given to prisoners, what sort of message does that send out?


  9. Conster says:

    Yes. All computer games should be banned in prison. We should also ban books and sports in prison. They want to read? Make them read the Bible. They want exercise? Have them break up rocks with an iron ball chained to their ankles, while the wardens whip those who fall behind. Scum should be treated like scum.

  10. squigs says:

    That’s all very moral and judgemental, but you’re not the one who has to keep them in line.

    Games consoles are a very minor perk compared with freedom.  What it does offer though is a carrot.  It’s something that can be used to reward good behaviour and removed to punish bad behaviour.

    Personally I don’t see a problem.  They’re out of the way.  They’re not going to cause me any trouble.  Might as well keep them entertained and prevent riots. 

  11. State says:

    They’re in prison for punishment, not for having a good time. All computer games should be banned in prison.

  12. Flamespeak says:

    Nazi Germany is a pretty good example of an extreme left-wing country.

    The bulk of Hitler’s rules and regulations were put forth to protect children, keep his country men healthy, and pomote German ideals over other countries that had inferior ideals and should be brought into light.

    He was a monster, but he was also a charasmatic leftist leader that brought people the change they demanded when he rose to power.

  13. Ryno says:

    WTF? You’re actually trying to say that fascists are left-wing? How right wing are you to have Nazis on your left?


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  14. jedidethfreak says:

    You’re first line applies to left wing prisons because of the fact that all of the fascist dictators in history have been political leftists.  The second is what those prisons start off as, in an attempt by the left to garner favor, thus increase their political power.

    Don’t believe me?  Look up Nazi Germany’s history, or Communist Russia, or North Vietnam, or China, or Cuba, or Columbia, or any of the African nations that are currently in crisis.


    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  15. squigs says:


    But the Guardian article is remarkably short on details. 

    I’m a little sceptical.  It looks like a lazy journalist decided to just rehash the previous article to fill a small amount of space easily.  There’s no evidence of any fact checking and the comment from the prison service in the article if taken on its own would suggest that PS3s have never been allowed in prisons.

  16. chadachada321 says:


    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  17. DarkSaber says:

    Isn’t this the same prison service that last time vehemently stated they DIDN’T allow prisoners access to these consoles?

    EDIT: Indeed it is, here’s the quote.


    A spokesman for the Prison Service told the Times:

    Prisoners have never been allowed access to wireless enabled technology such as that used in some games consoles. Nor would they ever be allowed access to such technology.

    A decision was taken some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred because the capability to send or receive radio signals is an integral part of the equipment.



    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  18. Flamespeak says:

    It would be easier to buy up all the remaining 20 GB launch models that lacked that feature to begin with.

  19. Wormdundee says:

    How hard is it to remove the wireless capability of a PS3? I don’t claim to be an expert, but surely it can’t be too difficult to get a tech to open up the PS3s and remove the wireless chip.

  20. Speeder says:

    When left wing is critizised for killing political prisioners, having awfull prisons and whatnot.

    When  a prison is TOO good, people call it left wing too.

    I wonder…


  21. FlakAttack says:

    That’s uber-left wing policies for you… protect and defend prisoners, and pay good money doing it.

    That is, if they ever go to prison. Here in Canada, they often give people a 2-for-1 credit for time spent in holding before and during the trial period… even for violent crime and especially for multi-million dollar theft. Hell, at one point, 250 million dollars was essentially stolen, and only one guy went to jail for a year. He was let out after 3 months.

  22. Matthew says:

    And which businesses situated next to prisons (we’re dealing with WLANs here, so the distance can’t be great) are broadcasting insecure wireless networks into them? Letting your company’s network spread itself freely around the neighbours is a security nightmare, and while you’ll have your work cut out to keep out hackers and wardrivers et al., you shouldn’t have too many problems stopping inmates yoinking into your network using PS3s. Hide the SSID and use some encryption on that sucker. What are they going to do?

    (Unless they’re in prison for modifying a PS3 to gain unlawful access to private networks, in which case just keep your eye on them.)

  23. DarkSaber says:

    Because some prisons are located inside cities.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  24. Matthew says:

    The debate over whether prisons should have PS3s at all is an offshoot from the public not being able to decide whereabouts prison time should sit within the ‘rehabilitation – removal – punishment’ triangle. That’s Pretty Deep and nobody will ever agree on it, though it does make for good debate content that will almost certainly appear elsewhere on this page.

    Instead, I want to question the purely technical point of all this. The PS3 isn’t magical, and it doesn’t have a 3G uplink. In order to wirelessly communicate with anything at all it needs to be within range of a WLAN signal which is in turn given access to the supernets. Surely a more pressing question is Why are there unsecured wireless networks linked to the internet in a prison?

  25. Mechadon says:

    Kinda hard to believe I’d agree with an issue featuring "Ban" and "PS3" in the title.

    My father always told me there aren’t any videogames in jail. Lets keep that the truth.

Comments are closed.