UK & World News

  • 23 December 2013, 19:53

Prisoners Won't Receive Parcels This Christmas

Convicted prisoners will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones this Christmas under new rules introduced by the Government.

The rules forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are "exceptional circumstances".

The new measures were introduced in November, meaning this is the first Christmas for which the new rules will be in effect.

A Prison Service spokesperson confirmed the rule change, saying it was part of a raft of Government reforms.

But Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "These new mean and petty prison rules just add stress and strain while doing nothing to promote rehabilitation and personal responsibility."

Some 85,000 people are currently held in prisons in England and Wales.

Under the rules, prisoners are allowed just a single parcel following their conviction - which is vetted by prison staff.

Since the new rules were introduced, the trust has been contacted by more than 100 prisoners who are concerned.

The advice team said it has also been contacted by many elderly and disabled prisoners who are unable to work and cannot earn enough money to pay for items such as stationery or things to keep them occupied.

Previously the families of these prisoners could have sent them a pack of cards, board games, books or magazines.

Rates of pay for those working average around 10 a week, out of which they must pay for phone calls, TV rental, stationery, reading material and any additional food, clothes and toiletries they may need.

It costs 20p a minute to call a mobile from a prison phone during the week; and 9p a minute to phone a landline.

Exceptional items are allowed at the governor's discretion, including disability or health aids, items needed for religious observance, stamped addressed envelopes or replacement clothes where there is limited or restricted access to the laundry.

The impact of these new rules is being monitored by Ministry of Justice officials responsible for safer custody and ongoing work to reduce self-harm and suicide in prison.

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