SoA urges improvement of prison libraries

SoA urges improvement of prison libraries

The Society of Authors (SoA) has written to justice secretary Chris Grayling, urging him to ensure that all prisons comply with their statutory obligations on libraries.

SoA chief executive Nicola Solomon (pictured) used the letter to outline the statutory duty of prisons to have a library, with all prisoners allowed access for a minimum of 30 minutes every two weeks.

She warned: "We understand that in many prisons, access to library facilities does not comply with the statutory  minimum… Despite this statutory obligation we learn that book stock in many prisons is poor, often damaged or out of date and that inter-library loan requests are often slow or not actioned at all."

Many prisons are not providing proper prisoner access to libraries either, Solomon added.

The letter follows a wave of criticism against the Ministry and Grayling for regulations introduced into prisons last year, which impose a ban on prisoners receiving books and other parcels in the the post. Authors and human rights groups have condemned the move, which Grayling has defended as a measure to stop illicit materials being smuggled into prisons.

This week, charity the Prison Reform Trust urged for a review of the rules in a report entitled "Punishment without Purpose", warning that the current regulations were harming the welfare of prisoners.