Prisons consultation responses

Ministry of Justice Review of Education in Prisons (November 2015)

CILIP responded to the Ministry of Justice Review of Education in Prisons. The consultation was in the form of a survey.

Key points:

  • Access to education (and to books, information and literacy support) is a right and not a privilege. 
  • Prison libraries offer opportunities for informal learning outside the formal education structure of the prison and allows prisoners unable or unwilling to undertake formal learning to still take part in learning activities.

Justice Committee government Programme of Reforms to Prisons (September 2016)

CILIP submitted evidence to the Justice Committee’s inquiry into the Government’s programme of reforms to prisons.

Executive Summary and Recommendations

  • Prison libraries are an integral part of offender learning in prison
  • In our view the purpose of prison is to assist people towards rehabilitation and not purely to punish. Therefore education has to be absolutely core to life in prison and indeed after
  • Access to education - to books, information and literacy support, is a right and not a privilege. Education needs to be seen in its broadest terms given that “education” needs to encompass a huge range of different types of personalised activities in order to meet the diverse needs the prison population
  • A lack of recognition of the role and purpose of the prison library and its staff and the transformative role it can play in a prisoner’s journey to rehabilitation represents a wasted opportunity
  • Without some form of access to the internet modern education is going to be curtailed. Not having a basic level of digital skills as defined by Go On UK’s Basic Digital Skills Framework will seriously limit the likelihood of a prisoner gaining employment on release - not least due to the inability to apply for jobs online which is now the norm for most organisations when advertising job vacancies


  • Prison libraries should be an integral part of the proposed Personal Learning Plans and prison library staff part of any professional development to support them to deliver high quality education.
  • All prisoners should have the opportunity of regular use of the prison library for the learning opportunities they present and for enjoyment. This must be assured in any new Transforming Rehabilitation programme and changes in the way criminal justice budgets might operate in the future
  • Prison libraries and skilled library staff should be a key element in developing the Virtual Campus project
  • Just as public librarians have played a key role, through the People’s Network, in up-skilling huge numbers of people in their use of ICT prison library staff should be seen as the enablers of this type of learning in prisons
  • Prison library staff should be fully involved in pre-release work with offenders. In particular in facilitating effective links with the prisoner’s local library to encourage library use after release