London prisoners given free books

PUBLISHED: 09:55 24 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:55 24 August 2016



angelo gilardelli

The new ‘Books in Nicks’ scheme hopes to provide detainees with an alternative pathway to crime

Every prisoner in London custody suites will be given free books in an innovative scheme introduced by a Metropolitan Police Service Special Constable.

‘Books in Nicks’ is the brainchild of SC Steve Whitmore, who was inspired by the idea after arresting an 18-year-old for assault and possession of drugs earlier this year.

Knowing he was going to be in custody, the young man asked for a book - but Steve struggled to find anything of interest to him.

He explained: “The range and type of books available didn’t appeal to him, so I offered him my own book, Catcher in the Rye, and told him to keep it.

“The look on his face was amazing, his attitude and hostility towards me completely changed and it created common ground for us to talk about. He said he’d never been given a book before to own, and that really moved me.”

Now prisoners in all 43 London custody suites will be able to take a novel away with them, choosing from more than 30 titles including Moby Dick, Great Expectations and Treasure Island.

SC Whitmore, who has worked with the charity Give a Book, said:

“The aim of this scheme is to provide easy-to-read books that are familiar, tangible and can be kept. It also provides a possible alternative pathway for young detainees by flagging up free educational courses and access to charities with diversion options.

“Our core belief is that to pass on a good read is a transaction of worth.”

Inside every book readers find a leaflet advertising free educational courses and advice on how to register for them.

Alongside the books a junior magazine is offered called The Week, an easy-to-read publication for young readers with lots of pictorial and current articles.

Victoria Gray of the Give A Book charity said: “Just the act of giving a book can change a difficult situation; it shows you’re being thought about differently.

“I truly believe that reading can open a door and help turn people’s lives around.”

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