Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent representations he has received from organisations concerned about the inclusion of books in the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme; and what assessment his Department has made of the effect the inclusion of books in that scheme will have on prisoner rehabilitation.
Jeremy Wright (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice; Kenilworth and Southam, Conservative)
There have always been controls on the sending of parcels into prisons, and allowing parcels to be sent in unrestricted would be operationally unmanageable and would lead to a significant risk of drugs and other illicit items being smuggled into prisons.
We have always recognised the importance of reading and literature in the rehabilitative process, and the positive effects this has on prisoners’ welfare. The National Offender Management Service works closely with schemes such as the Shannon Trust reading network, which includes peer mentoring to improve reading levels.
The Howard League for Penal Reform, English PEN and Liberty have made representations concerning prisoner access to books. There have been no changes in the availability of books in prisons. Every prison has a library, to which every prisoner has access. Up to 12 books may be held by prisoners in their cell at any one time and additional volumes may be stored locally at the prison.