A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner - Chris Atkins; | Foyles Bookstore
Enter your search into one or more of the boxes below:
You can refine your search by selecting from any of the options below:
A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner
Foyalty 51

A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner (Hardback)

Usually despatched within 1 week.


Where can a tin of tuna buy you clean clothes? Where is it easier to get 'spice' than paracetamol? Where does self-harm barely raise an eyebrow?

Welcome to Her Majesty's Prison Service. Like most people, documentary-maker Chris Atkins didn't spend much time thinking about prisons. But after becoming embroiled in a dodgy scheme to fund his latest film, he was sent down for five years.

His new home would be HMP Wandsworth, one of the largest and most dysfunctional prisons in Europe. With a cast of characters ranging from wily drug dealers to senior officials bent on endless reform, this powerful memoir uncovers the horrifying reality behind the locked gates.

Filled with dark humour and shocking stories, A Bit of a Stretch reveals why our creaking prison system is sorely costing us all - and why you should care.

'Shocking, scathing, entertaining.' Guardian

'Incredibly compelling.' The Times 

'Heart-breaking.' Sunday Times 

BiographyMemoirsHistory & PoliticsPolitics & governmentPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesCrime & criminologyPenology & punishmentPrisons Publisher: Atlantic Books Publication Date: 06/02/2020 ISBN-13: 9781838950156  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Usually despatched within 1 week. Add to Basket

Chris Atkins is a BAFTA-nominated filmmaker. His documentaries Taking Liberties and Starsuckers were critically acclaimed and made front-page news. He has also worked extensively with Dispatches for Channel 4 and BBC Panorama. Following his release from prison, he is now back in North London, filming documentaries and writing.

More books by Chris Atkins

Customer Reviews

Chris Atkins was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. He's not the stereotypical prisoner we're used to hearing about – he doesn't do drugs, in fact he doesn't even smoke, he's middle class and got a degree at Oxford – and as a way of coping with prison life he writes down a little about each day. His diary of life inside Wandsworth is both fascinating and horrifying and makes for compelling reading. There are ways of climbing the hierarchy system and being an educated man, Chris is able to get close to the top. This enables him to avoid twenty-three hour 'bang up' like most of the other prisoners and have a few comforts like a duvet, his own clothes, a kettle and use of the library. Chris has written an honest account of his time in Wandsworth, sometimes negative about the system, often positive about his outlook. He doesn't make excuses for his wrong-doing and we see the raw emotion of losing his family, especially his young son. It's well executed, a real eye-opener, and I found it very difficult to put down.

- 16/03/2020
Report this Review

This is a harrowing read in which Chris Atkins tells of his experience inside HMP Wandsworth. As a documentary maker he took to writing a journal as a way of passing the time in his cell. There are many stories within this book which tell of others he encountered during his sentence. There are dark tales, heartbreaking stories and even a dash of humour as Chris adjusts to his new life. Many of the diary entries are shocking beyond belief. I have so many thoughts on the issues raised in this book however I am still working my way through the helpful footnotes. Final point, the epilogue lists the changes Chris would wish to introduce if he was given the opportunity to become justice secretary. It is clear from this that the immediate changes required are fundamental, straightforward and make good sense. We know there is no chance of him being appointed justice secretary. However, is there anyone in power who will read this book, take onboard what is being said and act on this information? I'm hopeful, yet doubtful. What is good to see is there has been a lot of talk regarding the release of this book on TV this week so maybe, just maybe.... I feel that this is a book which could change lives. It could be the start of something! My review can be read in full on my book blog momobookdiary

- 05/02/2020
Report this Review
Leave Review

Delivery Options

All delivery times quoted are the average, and cannot be guaranteed. These should be added to the availability message time, to determine when the goods will arrive. During checkout we will give you a cumulative estimated date for delivery.


Location 1st Book Each additional book Average Delivery Time
Free UK Standard Delivery on Orders Over £25 (2nd Class)     3-5 Days
UK Standard Delivery (2nd Class) £2.99 £0.00 3-5 Days
UK 1st Class Delivery £3.99 £0.00 2-3 Days

Click & Collect / 
Delivery to a Foyles Bookshop


Free Free Click and Collect and Delivery to Store is available for all our shops. Collection times will vary depending on availability of items. Individual despatch times for each item will be given at checkout.
Please wait for order arrival confirmation email before making a journey to collect.
UK Courier* £7.95 £0.00 1 Working Day
Western Europe Airmail** £9.00 £1.00 7-8 Days
Rest of World Airmail*** £12.50 £1.00 7-10 Days

* For courier service please contact the Charing Cross Road store

** Includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

*** We are currently unable to delivery to the following countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Macao, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Virgin Island US

Given the unfolding situation across Ukraine, with regret we have now suspended orders placed from, or to be delivered to, both Russia and Ukraine. Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

For goods delivered outside of the UK, the consignee (ie the person to whom the consignment is sent) will be the declarant and importer into the country for which the consignment is destined. The consignee will be responsible for both customs clearance and payment of customs duties and local taxes where required.

Customs Charges - if you are ordering goods for delivery outside of the UK, please note that your consignment may be subject to VAT (Value Added Tax), other taxes, customs duties and/or fees levied by the destination country. Any such charges levied in relation to customs clearance must be borne by you. It is accepted by you that Foyles has no control over additional charges in relation to customs clearance. Foyles recommend that you check with your local customs officials or post office for more information regarding importation taxes/duties that may be applicable to your online order.

Delivery Help & FAQs

A Year of Books Subscription Packages 

Delivery is free for the UK. Western Europe costs £60 for each 12 month subscription package purchased. For the Rest of the World the cost is £100 for each package purchased. All delivery costs are charged in advance at time of purchase. For more information please visit the A Year of Books page.

Returns Information

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase*, you may return it to us in its original condition with in 30 days of receiving your delivery or collection notification email for a refund. Except for damaged items or delivery issues the cost of return postage is borne by the buyer. Your statutory rights are not affected.

* For Exclusions and terms on damaged or delivery issues see Returns Help & FAQs

You might also like

Fighting for My Life: A Prisoner's...
Billy Moore
Pregnancy and New Motherhood in Prison
Lucy Baldwin; Laura Abbott
A Prison Diary Volume III: Heaven
Jeffrey Archer
A Prison Diary Volume I: Hell
Jeffrey Archer
© W&G Foyle Ltd