Criminal Justice System: Contribution of Sport

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby 12:00 am, 10th July 2018

What assessment his Department has made of the contribution of sport to effective outcomes in the criminal justice system.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

There is good evidence that sport and physical activity have considerable benefits for the physical, mental and social wellbeing and motivation of prisoners while they are in custody and can improve their prospects for successful resettlement in the community. To understand the fuller picture, Professor Rosie Meek of Royal Holloway, University of London was commissioned to undertake an independent review of the role of sport in youth justice. Her report will be published shortly, and we will respond to it.

Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

Programmes run by professional rugby clubs—such as the England-wide Hitz programme, which is run in my nearest premiership club, Wasps, and Saracens’ Get Onside in London—build up career aspirations for young offenders and those excluded from school. We have already heard that rates of reoffending are too high, but the Get Onside programme prevents 92% of the young offenders involved from returning to crime. Does the Minister recognise the benefit of these sports-based programmes?

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I am absolutely delighted to join my hon. Friend in highlighting the important and successful programmes of this sort that are run by clubs such as Saracens. They are already using sport and team sports such as rugby to improve outcomes in prison effectively, but also, importantly, to reduce reoffending on release. He is absolutely right to praise them.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

One of my constituents is concerned that her son has put on significant weight in prison. What are the Government doing to provide health education, sport and a better diet to help offenders?

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight that all three of those factors play a part in whether a prison is a safe place and whether it looks after the welfare of those in it. As I have highlighted, we continue to focus on sport, and we have commissioned a review, and we continue, as does Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons in holding us to account, to deliver a healthy regime in prisons.