Prisoner Rehabilitation: Sporting Activities

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mike Wood Mike Wood Conservative, Dudley South 12:00 am, 5th December 2017

What assessment he has made of the effect of prisoners participating in sporting activities on improving rehabilitation rates.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

What assessment he has made of the effect of prisoners participating in sporting activities on improving rehabilitation rates.

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

There is strong evidence that physical education and sport improve the wellbeing and motivation of those in custody and ex-offenders in the community. Both improve their prospects of successful resettlement.

Photo of Mike Wood Mike Wood Conservative, Dudley South

Team sports promote the values of hard work, accountability and team work. Does the Minister agree that these are exactly the values we should seek to instil in offenders, particularly young offenders, to cut the risk of reoffending and give them a better chance in life after release?

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Yes, I do. I hope that every Member would agree. I have commissioned Professor Rosie Meek of Royal Holloway to compile a report on the impact of sport on offenders in custody and in the community so that I can get a complete picture of what I think are the positive benefits. I look forward to her report being published in the new year.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

What is the purpose of prison? Is it punishment or rehabilitation?

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The purpose of prison is to play its part in reducing crime. That is the fundamental challenge that our Department and the Home Office face, and I believe that sports clubs can play a part. For example, the Saracens project with Feltham young offenders institution has a recidivism rate in its small pilot of about 10%, which compares very favourably to the overall rate.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

As well as sport, does the Minister agree that arts and crafts could also play a part in the rehabilitation of offenders? Prisoners in Hull Prison were involved in creating a replica of Jason, Amy Johnson’s plane, for city of culture year. It is now in Hull Paragon train station. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Justice seems to want to move it to York. Will he look at that again and keep it in Hull to recognise what the prisoners have done?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. The hon. Lady has raised an ingenious point, which is at best tangentially related to the question on the Order Paper—rather as one might say that Hull is tangentially related to York, both of them being in the north of England. Given that she has been so ingenious, however, let us hear the Minister and find out whether he is comparably dexterous.

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.

I agree with the hon. Lady that it is not exclusively sport that can make an impact on the lives of young offenders in particular. I remember visiting Cookham Wood Prison and being overwhelmed by the quality of the artwork that was being undertaken there.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham North

Prisoner wellbeing and rehabilitation at HMP Nottingham continues to be of major concern after five people died there in four weeks. When I raised the issue at the last justice questions, the Prisons Minister, Mr Gyimah, echoed my concern and undertook to write to me. May I ask whether Ministers are still concerned about HMP Nottingham, and when I will receive that letter?

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

If the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me about the matter, it would be very helpful.

Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The matter is not specifically in my brief, because HMP Nottingham is not a young offender institution.