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Prisons: Exercise

Justice written question – answered on 10th September 2013.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy to introduce a charge for prisoners to use gyms and swimming pools in prisons.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Prison Act 1952 sets out the statutory requirements for physical education (PE) and the legal minimum provision of one hour a week for adults (Prison Rules 1999, Rule 29) and two hours a week for young offenders (Young Offender Rules 2000, Rule 41).

The National Offender Management Service promotes participation in PE and Prison Service Instruction 58/2001 Physical Education for Prisoners specifies the requirement for fair and equal access to PE facilities for all prisoners, including young offenders.

There are no current plans to introduce charging of prisoners for the use of gyms and swimming pools in prisons and young offender institutions.

We have announced significant changes to the policy framework of the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme, which operates in all prisons. The new arrangements will be implemented across the adult estate. Under the revised IEP policy, from November, access to exercise facilities above the minimum allowance will have to be earned by engaging with the regime and demonstrating commitment to their rehabilitation, as well as demonstrating good behaviour. Any such access must take place outside the core working day.

PE in prisons focuses on rehabilitation and reducing reoffending through a range of structured activities and intervention programmes and should not be confused with community participation in leisure activities. Prisoners are encouraged to address their offending behaviour, adopt healthy lifestyles, gain employability skills/qualifications and tackle substance misuse issues, PE supports those prisoners with physical and mental health issues by providing the opportunity for modified PE activity and reduces health inequalities by providing access for all prisoners.

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