A fortnight of prison news, what’s been written? And by whom? 10 need to know articles to keep you up to date on prisons in the press. 


The question of whether books should be allowed behind bars has dominated the press over the last two weeks.

1) The high court ruled last Friday (5 December) that the ban on sending books to prisoners was unlawful. The UK’s best-known writers cheered the decision, reports the Guardian.


 But that wasn’t the end of it…

2) Phillip Davies, MP, argued that the ruling was “absolutely wrong”. Speaking to the BBC on Thursday he argued that prison libraries were “better stocked than the public libraries”.

3) Meanwhile, protests against the restriction on books took place outside the Ministry of Justice. Protesters urged ministers to lift the ban in time for Christmas. The Daily Mail reports.


Privatisation of the probation service

4) Last Tuesday (2 December) the Guardian reported that Chris Grayling would press ahead with his decision to privatise the probation service, despite public safety concerns and a conflict of interest row.

5) The Guardian followed it up on Monday (8 December) with reports that Napo, the probation union, had ended its high court challenge to prevent privatisation. In return, Grayling promised a significant recruitment drive to ease staffing and workload pressures.


In other news…

6) The third suicide in three weeks at Elmly prison, Kent, sparked serious questions about the lack of staff, and levels of violence and self-harm, the Independent reported last Friday (5 December).

7) The Belfast telegraph reported on Tuesday (9 December) that Legionnaires’ disease bacteria was found in the water system of Magilligan Prison, Northern Ireland. The court heard that one prisoner died in 2007 after being exposed to the bacteria, the inquest continues this week.

8) In a letter to the Daily Post on Wednesday, one Wrecsam resident raised concerns over a new prison build. Gareth Williams argued that the proposed local prison should be for local prisoners only.

9) The prison system isn’t working for mothers, The Northern Echo reported on Thursday (11 December). “Prison can be a traumatic and damaging experience for women and their families, with long-term impacts on individuals and society” said Helen Attewell, chief executive of NEPACS.

10) And Britain imprisons a higher proportion of its black population than the US wrote Lola Young in the Guardian on Thursday (11 December).



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