New scheme providing free
books for prisoners in police custody launched to mark World Book Day
DETAINEES in Police Custody, in
Merseyside, will be offered free books, thanks to a new scheme launched by the
Police Commissioner to mark World Book Day.
Books in the Nick was dreamed up by special constable, Steve Whitmore, from the
Metropolitan Police after he lent an 18 year old detainee his own book in
custody. When the Officer told the teenager he could keep the book, he noticed
how the detainee's hostility and attitude completely changed. This sparked Steve
to join with charity Give a Book and, as a result, free books are now available
in all 43 of the Met's custody suites.
Now the initiative is being brought to Merseyside thanks to the Police
Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, who has also teamed up with the charity to ensure
prisoners detained at all 5 of Merseyside Police's custody suites will have
access to free books.
In total, more than 50 books will be distributed between the custody suites,
with versions available in Spanish, French, Polish and Arabic. The selection
includes classics, short stories, quick reads, and young adult fiction.
The scheme was launched on Thursday, 2 March
2017, by the Deputy Police Commissioner,
Cllr Sue Murphy and Rev. Peter Beaman, the Chair of Merseyside's Independent
Custody Visiting (ICV) scheme, who 1st proposed starting the scheme here.
PCC led ICV scheme sees a team of 30 volunteers making unannounced visits at
Police cells to check on the welfare and wellbeing of detainees. They make
recommendations as to how conditions could be improved.
Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy said:- "I'm delighted to be
joining with the Chair of our ICV scheme and Give a Book to launch Books in the
Nick in Merseyside to mark World Book Day.
Being on your own in a cell for up to 24 hours, particularly in what may be
upsetting circumstances, can be very distressing and isolating. By providing
detainees with access to a free book we could potentially alter a person's
experience of custody.
Books not only pass the time, they have the power to calm people down and even
make them think in a different way. It's clear from Special Constable Whitmore's
experience that the act of giving a book can make a difference and change a
Chair of the ICV scheme, Rev Beaman, said:- "Being able to offer reading
material to those detained in custody means that they are usefully occupied
during the process, while also giving encouragement to those who rarely read to
develop an interest in books and magazines."
Following the launch, the Commissioner's office will monitor how many of the
books are taken and will liaise with Give a Book to provide more books when
required. Give a Book was set up in 2011 in memory of writer and playwright
Simon Gray who loved to read and to share his reading. The charity uses
donations to source new books at cost price and distributes them to someone who
might need 1.
Victoria Gray from Give a Book said:- "We are delighted that Merseyside
Police are launching this scheme which has proved such a success in the Met
Area. We look forward to working with them in the future."
World Book Day is now in its 20th year and is marked in more than 100 countries
around the world. The event has been designated by UNESCO as a worldwide
celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading, and gives book lovers,
and children, the chance to celebrate their favourite stories.
Find out more about Give a Book at:-