Prisoners Communications - Correspondence

At Bridging the Gap (BTG), we have been receiving a few questions about what can be sent into UK Prisons.

One question that comes up time and time again is about Prisoners Communications and that is 'are you allowed to send in stamps to a UK prisoner?' Strange though it may seem stamps themselves are not actually allowed, but Stamped Addressed Envelopes (SAEs) are!

We have added to the document download section on the website PSI 49/2011 Prisoner Communications - Correspondencehttp://www.btguk.org/index.php?option=com_docman&;task=cat_view&gid=34&Itemid=134. This is the regulations for Prisoners correspondence in the UK only. It is in word format and 35 pages long.

Whilst I realise that not everyone has the time or the inclination to wade through legal documents, it is there if you wish to read it.

There are some prisons that do allow inmates to receive books of stamps and there are some that do not. It is always best to check, either with your inmate or with the prison direct.

What the PSI says, in section 2.16 is:- 

The correspondents of some prisoners may wish to send them stamped addressed envelopes, bearing their return address, to encourage them to write letters and to help with the costs. This must be allowed and no deductions must be made from the private cash allowance for the cost of the stamps or envelopes received. 

Many prisons have in the past allowed stamps in, in reality turning a blind eye to them coming in. It is thought the reason that stamps may not be allowed in is because they can be seen as currency, and can be used to buy and sell stuff. So the idea of sending in SAEs is seen as a better solution.

I do know though of people who send in SAEs, but instead of writing the address in ink, they use a pencil so that the inmate can if they wish rub the address out!

Interestingly enough, some UK prisons do not allow SAEs in even, yet the regulations say that they are to be allowed. (PSI 49/2011 Regulation 2.16). So if your prison doesn’t allow SAEs in, then they are actually breaking their own rules. We at Bridging the Gap would like to know if the establishment you are writing to do allow stamps or not, and if they allow SAEs or not.

So far we have the following prisons that allow either Stamps or SAE's in or both:-

HMP Ranby (SAE's only); HMP Swalside (Both); HMP Manchester (Both) HMP Parkhurst (Stamps) HMP Grendon (Stamps).

We have been informed that HMP Wandsworth DO NOT allow either Stamps or SAE's in.

Also if you have the regulations for anywhere else in the world, that information would also be welcome.