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‘Books in Nicks’ Giving Classics to London Prisoners

By August 29, 2016Literature, News

A new scheme in London has just begun, giving books to prisoners who are being held in police custody. Met Police special constable Steve Whitmore came up with the ‘Books in Nicks’ initiative earlier this year, he’d arrested someone on drug possession charges and the man asked if he could borrow a book to read while he was in custody. The officer was unable to find a book for the prisoner and so gave him his own copy of Catcher in the Rye, telling him to keep it. The exchange had a profound and instant effect on the relationship between the prisoner and the police officer and has now led to the start of this new scheme.

Special Constable Whitmore has now engaged with the Give a Book charity to put over thirty paperback ‘Books in Nicks’ across London, printed in various languages. The books include well known classics such as Moby Dick, Great Expectations, Treasure Island, and the book that started it all, Catcher in the Rye. Every title will be for the prisoner to keep and will also contain information about free educational courses.

The Charity, Give a Book is providing all the books for the initiative, which means ‘Books in Nicks’ will run at no cost to the Metropolitan Police. The charity has included many engaging stories, poetry, short stories and other books designed to be immediately engaging, and they say the act of giving a book can turn someone’s life around. Giving someone a book to read in custody instantly humanises them, it creates a connection between police officer and detainee, making this just another way that literature is making a difference to people’s lives.

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