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Sport is a 'central pillar for helping young offenders' Justice Minister comments as report is published

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11th of August 2018 saw the publishing of a new independent report into the rehabilitative qualties of sports and physical education for young people in the youth justice system under the Justice Minister Edward Argar. 

Professor Rosie Meek, a chartered psychologist, founding Head of the Law School and Director of the Prisons Research Group at Royal Holloway University of London, was chose to author the report with the aim of idenitifying the best practice across the estate and the role sport can play. Meek worked in partnership with the National Alliance of Sport and Clinks to this end. 

Following her review the Ministry of Justice also published a response highlighting the steps it will take to boost sporting provision in Prisons. 

The data showed that engaging in a structured programme could help offenders learn self-discipline, team work and leadership; essential for a life beyond bars. Team sport was also shown to improve their mental and physical health, giving youths coping strategies for dealing with the behaviour issues that had impacted their attitudes and lifestyles. 

The report noted the current positive examples already in place that should be inspiration across the country.  Many sport programmes in the youth estate give offenders the chance to get vocational qualifications, significantly improving their chance of employment on release.  

Specific examples noted were the Leeds Rhinos training sessions, life coaching and mentorship for vulnerable young people at Wetherby YOI, Manchester United, Everton and Fullham's education programmes for youths at risk of offending, and Sacarens coaching qualifications at Feltham YOI. 

Both Argar and Meek have commented on the report.

Justice Minister Edward Argar stated: "This review rightly highlights that sport can help to reduce violence, improve wellbeing and have a positive impact on rehabilitation."

He described how his visits across institutions inspired him as he could not help noticing, "the passion and dedication of staff, and of the external organisations" already helping young people. 

Argar has conceeded that "sport on its own" is not the answer to these young offenders' problems, but it can be a "a central pillar" in helping them rehabilitate. 

Professor Rosie Meek added that she believed sport was "a powerful tool in reducing reoffending" too and commented that she hoped the recommendations would improve life in the youth justice system. 

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