The use of sport and physical activity across the youth justice system in England and Wales is set to undergo a formal review.
The review is being led by a group of organisations all working in this field, known as the National Alliance of Sport for the Desistance of Crime, or ‘Alliance of Sport’.
The findings, which will be released in spring 2018, will inform future use of sport as a tool in the rehabilitation and resettlement of young offenders.
The review will also form an evidence base of ‘best practice’ across the community, youth, young adult and adult estate and make recommendations to maximise the impact of sport programmes in prisons and community sport partnerships.
The review was commissioned and formally announced this week by Dr Phillip Lee MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Youth Justice.
The Alliance of Sport will conduct the review in partnership with Clinks, a charity supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families. Professor Rosie Meek of Royal Holloway, University of London, will be its lead academic.
One of the outcomes of the review will be a ‘toolkit’ allowing prison sport programme leaders and community sports providers to apply best practice to their work, train staff, measure their impact and form a joined-up approach with partners on either side of the prison gate.
Amongst other areas, the report will analyse the impact sport programmes can have on specific issues that affect offenders, such as gang affiliation, violence, employment, and health and wellbeing.
The review will provide a robust evidence base that will form the ideal platform for funders and Government policy makers to invest in the effective use of sport across youth justice.
“We are very excited to have been asked to carry out this extensive review, which is a significant step towards our vision of placing sport at the heart of the justice system,” commented James Mapstone, Co-Founder and Chair of the Alliance of Sport.
“All members of our Alliance believe in the power of sport to prevent offending and rehabilitate offenders. It would be the fulfilment of a lifetime’s work for many of us to see an enhanced package of Sport for Development adopted as part of everyday support for offenders inside and outside of custody.”