PRISONERS in Scottish jails have been banned from receiving books from relatives amid concerns they are being used to smuggle drugs and weapons.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has introduced a blanket ban on reading materials being sent to inmates or handed over during visits from friends and family members.

It suspects the books were being used to smuggle counterfeit items – including drugs, weapons and mobile phone sim cards – into jails.

There were also concerns convicts were being given inappropriate reading material that may effect their behaviour.

Prisoners now have to order books from a supplier approved by jail governors and the subject matter will be vetted.

But inmates have claimed the decision will hamper attempts to improve literacy in prisons.

A spokeswoman for the SPS said: "I can confirm that books intended for individual prisoners can only be ordered through and received via an external supplier approved by the governor of each establishment.

"This policy applies only to books intended for individual prisoners and not those books gifted to the establishment for general prisoner use.

"This has been adopted for security reasons and to ensure a consistent approach across the Scottish Prison Service concerning receipt of books into all secure establishments for prisoners from friends and relatives."