Essex

Chelmsford prisoner complains about 'censored' song lyrics

Chelmsford Prison Image copyright PA
Image caption An inmate at HMP Chelmsford wrote to a prisoners' magazine to complain about lyrics being censored on National Prison Radio

A prison radio station has been slammed for treating inmates as "fluffy little munchkins" by censoring song lyrics.

An inmate at HMP Chelmsford wrote to prisoners' magazine Inside Time to complain about National Prison Radio (NPR), as reported in The Telegraph.

Craig Bird said the station even cut the line "put a gun against his head" from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, which "the bloody BBC" is happy to broadcast.

NPR said "all broadcasters routinely play 'radio edits' of some songs".

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Bird's letter, published in the September issue of the magazine, complains about "prisons treating us like children".

"We are grown adults, not fluffy little munchkins that have to be protected by the prison nanny."

Replying to Bird's letter, Andrew Wilkie, director of radio and operations at parent body Prison Radio Association, wrote: "All broadcasters will routinely play 'radio edits' of tracks which are suitable for their particular audience.

"When selecting and producing content, members of the NPR team ask themselves 'what would a victim of crime feel if they heard that particular piece of content was played on NPR?'."

Image copyright EmI
Image caption National Prison Radio removed the lyric "put a gun against his head" from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, the inmate said

John Roberts, operations director at Inside Time magazine, said: "Personally I can't quite see the logic because [prisoners] have access to public radio and music is on music players, it's on the TV and it's uncensored.

"I can't quite see the logic in censoring it just because it's the prison radio service."

He agreed that editing certain songs, including some rap songs that "include violence and language that is perhaps not appropriate" was acceptable.

"I remember being in a meeting once and somebody said could they play I shot the Sheriff and someone said 'yes, that'd be OK because he didn't shoot the deputy'... so there has been lots of discussion about censorship," he added.

NPR says it is "the world's only national radio station for prisoners" and describes itself as "a lifeline for prisoners".

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