Teesside professor and Prisoners Education Trust launch new report on the power of sport to reduce reoffending
Following the huge excitement and success that Great Britain has experienced during the London 2012 Olympics, a new report shows how sports can be used to promote a positive legacy by reducing reoffending.
Professor Rosie Meek
‘Fit for Release’, a joint report from charity Prisoners Education Trust and Professor Rosie Meek, of Teesside University, highlights how sports-based learning can help prisoners to engage in education, gain employment and desist from crime.
The report is launched at a time when the huge annual cost of repeat offending is around £7-10 billion, equal to the cost of hosting this summer’s Olympic Games.
The report reveals ways in which sports-based interventions in prison can help to reduce reoffending by engaging prisoners in learning, improving their employability and providing a way for prisoners give back to society.
Based on research by Professor Rosie Meek, of Teesside University, and Prisoners Education Trust, the report highlights the positive effects of sports in supporting rehabilitation by:
• Using sports to engage reluctant learners, as an alternative to traditional classroom-based teaching, such as doing literacy and numeracy classes in the prison gym;
• Using sports as a hook for learning progression, to encourage prisoners to go on to study at higher levels, including further and higher education;
• Improving employability by giving prisoners skills, qualifications, practical experience and confidence to work in the sports and fitness industry on release, for example as fitness trainers or as sports coaches;
• Allowing prisoners to give back to society, for example by giving them opportunities to be sports coaches on social inclusion projects and to act as positive role models for those at risk of offending.
The report makes several key recommendations, including:
• Providing more higher-level qualifications for those undertaking sports-related courses in prison, to reflect the requirements of sports employers;
• Ensuring that the government’s ‘Working Prisons’ agenda prepares prisoners for customer-facing roles, such as sports and fitness based work, and also encourages prisons to develop connections with local sports employers;
• Protecting staffing levels and resources in prison sports departments, recognising the valuable learning and skills work that can take place in prison gyms.
Prisoners Education Trust supports 2,500 prisoners each year to access education that would not otherwise be available, by funding distance learning courses in a wide range of subjects and levels, including sports and fitness courses. Nina Champion, Learning Matters Project Manager, from Prisoners Education Trust said:
‘The cost of reoffending each year is equivalent to the cost of hosting the Olympic games. As we look to the legacy of London 2012, it is vital that government and the prison service are inspired to use sports-based learning to help prisoners lead socially-constructive, crime-free lives. Our report ‘Fit for Release’ shows that sports interventions can be a significant hook for prisoners to undertake education, gain employment and stop reoffending’.
Professor Rosie Meek said:
‘The report is part of a wider body of research that I am undertaking on the benefits of sports-based interventions in prisons. I have found that these interventions are extremely valuable in providing ways for prisoners to gain training, skills and employment and in helping them to form positive self-identities. Government and the prison service should look to implement the recommendations of this report as part of a co-ordinated, prison-wide approach to using sport to reduce reoffending.’
Read the full report
14 August 2012
In the News
Horsing around to change lives
Dorset Echo (Weymouth), 02/01/2013, p.3; Bridport News, 02/01/2013, p.3
Harriet Laurie of Askerswell has been helping the inmates at Portland Young Offender Institution learn skills to break the cycle of offending and incarceration through horsemanship. It's been so successful at the YOI she's now trained three other natural horsemanship specialists to do the same in three other prisons. She also wanted academic evaluation of its success and asked Professor Rosie Meek of Teeside University and Dr Ann Hemingway from Bournemouth University to see if there was a statistical measure of improvement.
Sport to help reduce offending
Sunderland Echo (Web), 13/08/2012
Fit for Release, a joint report from charity Prisoners Education Trust and Professor Rosie Meek, of Teesside University, highlights how sports-based learning can help prisoners to engage in education, gain employment and desist from crime.