Pagan prisoners: Allowed to keep twigs in cells
Prison bosses have been instructed to let pagan inmates keep twigs in their cells...to use as wands.
Officers have been told to allow prisoners to collect and decorate the twigs which they need for their rituals.
It is the latest in a series of rulings to protect convicts' rights and ensure equality among different faiths.
Followers of other faiths are allowed items such as a prayer mat to allow them to worship.
The policy regarding pagans was announced by Justice Reform Minister Maria Eagle in a parliamentary answer.
She said: "Prison service policy is to enable prisoners of different faith traditions, including paganism, to practise their religion.
"Religious artefacts are allowed for relevant faiths within the constraints of good order and discipline. The religious artefacts for pagan prisoners include a flexible twig for a wand."
Tory prisons spokesman Edward Garnier said: "This sounds like an April Fool's Day joke. But there's genuine concern prisoners are taking the system for a ride."
Conservative MP Andrew Turner, who uncovered the new ruling, added: "This strikes me as bizarre. A lot of people would be worried about equating paganism with Christianity."