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Prisoner Rehabilitation: Sporting Activities

Volume 632: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2017

7. What assessment he has made of the effect of prisoners participating in sporting activities on improving rehabilitation rates. (902746)

14. What assessment he has made of the effect of prisoners participating in sporting activities on improving rehabilitation rates. (902753)

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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, the hon. Member for East Surrey (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?

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