It is of course shocking that the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling should ban prisoners from receiving books sent by their friends and relatives.

We might all agree with author Philip Pullman who said that the ban is worthy of Hitler and Pol Pot and entirely typical of a government whose most senior members regularly eat their own offspring, raw, tearing away at the flesh like crazed wolverines. Or something like that, anyway.

Various other authors have ranted and raved. But will it make a huge difference to the lives of the inmates? Do they often importune family members with these sort of requests: ‘I see that Carol Ann Duffy has a new, slim, volume out. I have not read the reviews yet, but if it is as anywhere near so powerful as the wry and pungent Feminine Gospels, I would kill for a copy. No, literally.’ It would be cheering to think that they did, and I suppose it is in the interests of society that more people read books.

Tags: Books, Carol Ann Duffy, Chris Grayling, Criminal justice, Justice, Justice system, Poetry, Prisons, reading