Chief prisons inspector: book ban 'a mistake'

Chief prisons inspector: book ban 'a mistake'

The UK's chief inspector of prisons has joined the growing number of voices objecting to the government's ban on sending books to prisoners.

Nick Hardwick has called the blanket ban "a mistake", and criticised the move in a interview with the Independent as unnecessary "micro-management" by politicians.

The ban on receiving private parcels of books, alongside other items, is part of a wider system of "incentives and earned privileges", designed to encourage prisoners to earn rewards such as access to goods by reaching certain levels of behaviour.
The government has defended the ban, saying prisoners can still get books from prison libraries.

Labour has waded into the debate with shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan expected to make a speech today (27th March) pledging to scrap the ban. Politics.co.uk quoted his speech as saying: "Putting obstacles in the way of prisoners being able to read books is ludicrous. Educational levels in prisons are a national disgrace — 40% of those behind bars have the reading age of an 11-year-old."

More authors have have protested against the ban, following a letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by Mark Haddon, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and Alan Bennett.

Another letter has been sent to the Evening Standard, signed by Simon Schama, Howard Jacobson, Martin Amin, Joanna Trollope and others.

A petition calling for the secretary of state for justice, Chris Grayling, to review the ban, has been signed by almost 20,000 people.