Guide to Prison Canteen Services and Facilities

Prison Info

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to prison canteen services and facilities in the UK. Here, we provide relevant, accessible information to help you understand what canteen services are available in UK prisons, how they work, and how they can be accessed by inmates.

What are Prison Canteen Services?

In the UK, prison canteen services act as the in-house supermarket system that allows inmates to purchase goods. Items can range from food and drink to toiletries and stationery. These services aim to contribute to the welfare and rehabilitation of prisoners by enabling them to manage their own purchases to a certain extent.

The Importance of Canteen Services in UK Prisons

Prison canteen services in the UK hold significant importance as they offer inmates a sense of normalcy in managing their supplies. They are not just about practicalities; they also contribute to the overall well-being of prisoners. The opportunity to buy products can help to reduce the sense of deprivation experienced by those in custody.

How to Use the Prison Canteen

Inmates have weekly order sheets which they can use to list the items they wish to purchase from the prison canteen. The funds for these purchases come from their prison wages or money sent in by friends or family. Items are generally delivered on a set day each week.


The services and facilities offered by prison canteen systems are governed by specific regulations to ensure fairness and safety. These rules, set by the UK Ministry of Justice, regulate the type and amount of goods inmates can buy, as well as the processes for buying and delivery times.

Frequencies and Limits

The frequency of purchase and the maximum spend limit in the UK prison canteen system can vary depending on the institution. Generally, though, inmates are allowed to spend a total of £15.50-£25.50 per week. This may vary depending on the prisoner’s incentive level, and special allowances may be made during festive periods.

What Can Be Bought in a Prison Canteen

Prison canteens offer an array of items for inmates to buy, including:

  • Food and beverages
  • Toiletries
  • Stationery
  • Smoke-free tobacco
  • Small electricals (with prior permission)

Payment Methods

Prisoners cannot hold cash in UK prisons, so canteen purchases are deducted directly from their private cash account held by the prison.

Friends and Family Contributions

Friends and family can send money into a prisoner’s private cash account. This helps prisoners afford goods from the canteen. It’s important to note that the prisoner may not receive the full amount sent in as a part may be used to pay towards their keep or to pay off any fines.

Hopefully, this guide has given you a comprehensive understanding of prison canteen services and facilities in the UK. By knowing these services in detail, you can help support your loved one in prison more effectively.

Related Prison Services in the UK

Additionally, you may be interested in reading about:

  1. Cell resources and facilities
  2. Education and learning programs in prison
  3. Work and pay in prison
  4. Healthcare services in prison
  5. Rehabilitation and resettlement programs in UK prisons

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