London Book Fair 2018

The Kittiwake Trust was Charity of the Year at LBF 2018. We presented a seminar entitled

Books in Prison: a legitimate means of escape.


The panel members are listed below and the video is at the foot of the page.

Mike Kirkup

Former Prison Governor


After working as an accountant for an engineering firm Mike joined the prison service in May 1980. He worked at remand centres in London and the North East before beginning his Assistant Governor training at Strangeways in 1983. He has worked at a YOI, a high security establishment and at prison service HQ before taking up his first Governing Governor Post at HMP Low Newton in 1995. He was responsible for managing the conversion of the establishment from a mainly male remand centre to a women’s prison introducing a regime that won plaudits from the then Chief Inspector of prisons, Lord Ramsbotham. He has governed the prison in Jersey, HMP Acklington, worked at the Government Office in Newcastle on the regions reducing re-offending strategy, before finishing his career at HQ again. He has been involved with the Perrie Lectures since 1995, twice as Chair of the committee.

Frances Crook OBE

The Howard League


Appointed Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform in 1986, Frances Crook has been responsible for research programmes and campaigns to raise public concern about the penal system. The charity has campaigned to reduce child arrests, reduce the over-use of custody and improve conditions in prison. Under her direction the number of staff and turnover of the charity have grown twenty-fold. The charity provides legal advice to children and young adults in custody and has taken a number of successful judicial reviews that have improved the treatment of young people in custody and on release.


She writes articles for the national media and frequently does interviews on radio and television news.


She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours list 2010


She is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Department of Criminology at Leicester University.

Erwin James

Editor, Inside Time


Erwin James Monahan was born to itinerant Scottish parents in Somerset in 1957. A family lifestyle described as, “brutal and rootless” by a prison psychologist following the death of his mother when James was seven, led to a limited formal education. His directionless way of life, which included a period as a fugitive in the French Foreign Legion continued, until August 1984 when he began his life sentence. James went to prison an inarticulate and ill-educated individual. After some encouragement from a prison worker however he embarked on a programme of part-time education. Six years later he graduated with the Open University, gaining an arts degree. Around the same time he developed an interest in writing. His first article for a national newspaper, The Independent, appeared in 1994. His first article in The Guardian newspaper appeared in 1998 and he began writing a regular column for the paper entitled A Life Inside in 2000. He remains a Guardian columnist and contributor as well as an author of a number of books about his prison experience.

David Kendall

Penned Up


David Kendall is a reader development specialist. Over the last two decades he has worked mainly with marginalised individuals and groups such as: prisoners, rough sleepers, and Looked After Children. He is the founder and co-director of Penned Up, an annual two-week arts and books festival at HMP Erlestoke. The festival is organised by, and for, the men in prison there. He is a facilitator for Safe Ground's Fathers Inside programme - a parenting course for incarcerated fathers, and runs a monthly prison reading group.

Luke Billingham

Haven Distribution


Luke is a trustee & volunteer at Haven Distribution, a small volunteer-led charity which has been sending books to prisoners all over the UK since 1996. Haven's primary focus is sending in educational books for those who are studying a course inside, but they also run a number of catalogues from which any prisoner can order books for free. Every adult prison in the UK has received books from Haven, and they have supported thousands of prisoners studying hundreds of different courses. Luke has been involved with Haven for three years, and has written about their work for InsideTime, openDemocracy and Verso, among others. He has spoken about Haven on the Pluto Press podcast and on Novara Media's "Lockdown" podcast.

Amina Marix Evans

The Kittiwake Trust


Amina has been involved with books since her first job at the library of the Institute of Race Relations in the late 1960s. She subsequently worked in bookshops in Sydney and London, publishing companies in the UK and the Netherlands as rights manager, editor, freelance translator, copy editor, and translation rights agent.


She set up Borderline Books in the Netherlands in 2001 and brought it to the UK in 2006. It is part of the Kittiwake Trust which was constituted as a community organisation in 2009 and became a charity in 2016.


Since July 2017 Borderline Books has been listed in the Hardman Directory and requests for books have poured in from people in prison all over the UK. Of the 14,222 books redistributed by Borderline Books in 2017, almost 6,000 went to police custody suites, prison libraries and education departments, individual prisoners, probation, NEPACS and organisations supporting prison leavers.

Books in Prison Seminar

Books in Prison - a legitimate means of escape

with Mike Kirby, Frances Crook, Erwin James, David Kendal, Luke Billingham and Amina Marix Evans