THE Government will not find many people who disagree with yesterday’s populist declaration that prisoners are to be made to work harder for privileges such as televisions in their cells.

Indeed, many will find it surprising that prisoners get privileges, such as multi-channel TVs, without having to make much effort.

Prisons Minister Chris Graling is right when he says that prison must feel like a punishment from the outset and that privileges should only come with good behaviour and some hard work.

But the Government needs to do much more than announce a headline- grabbing “work harder for your telly” strategy if British society is to get better value out of its prisons policy.

Prisoners can get access to a television in their cells if they show the right kind of attitude after a twoweek trial on entering prison, but it can be six months before drug rehabilitation and education programmes are made available.

Using prisons simply as a dumping ground, and letting offenders rot, would be a gigantic waste of public money and get us nowhere.

Prisons must be tough and unpleasant enough to make offenders afraid of going back. But punishment must be balanced with meaningful attempts to turn lives around.

Drug rehabilitation and education must be at the heart of that strategy, irrespective of what happens to be on the telly.