Late last year, the Prison Reform Trust’s advice and information service received a number of enquiries from people held in private prisons, regarding the cost of electronically transferring money into their prison account from families outside. Public sector prisons have also recently introduced such a service, however, unlike in private prisons this service is provided at no cost to either the sender or recipient. In response, we approached Unilink, the provider of the Secure Payment Service, to discuss how the situation might be able to be improved for those held in private prisons. We’re pleased that following our approach to Unilink, they have agreed to reduce costs by an average of 20% after negotiating discounts with their suppliers.


This is undoubtedly good news for families and friends who want to transfer money to their loved ones, however, we remain concerned that there is a discrepancy at all. People have little choice on whether they are held in a private or public prison, a problem made all the more acute with pressure on prison places and difficulties in securing transfers. That some families have to pay, whilst others do not is manifestly unfair. Public prisons, rightly, offer this service for free, and we will continue to work with HM Prisons and Probation Service to see how this might be extended to private prisons in future.