This week the Ministry of Justice released an independent review into sport in prisons and how fitness can reduce reoffending. The Hard Yard was included as an example of best practice. Although we ceased trading in May 2018, we're pleased our impact continues + our team's hard work is getting the recognition it deserves.
Professor Rosie Meek was asked to conduct an independent review into the current provision of sport in justice with a particular focus on health, reoffending and youth custody. She featured The Hard Yard as an example of best practice.
In her foreword, Rosie acknowledged the work of organisations like The Hard Yard in using sport for positive outcomes in the prison system and beyond. However, she said these examples of good practice were the exception. Her review explored how sports-based innovations can become commonplace throughout the criminal justice system.
We support all twelve of her recommendations to government but have highlighted a few that chimed with us below:
Recommendation 6 is to develop a strategy to increase physical activity among women and girls in prison. Women and girls in prisons exercise less than their male counterparts. Rosie highlights the need for a female-centric approach which deals directly with the types of trauma experienced by women and issues around body image and self consciousness which are more prevalent in women's prisons.
Recommendation 7 is to reconsider the ban on martial arts/boxing in prisons. The ban seems to stem from the idea that martial arts will encourage violence and fighting in prisons. All the evidence suggests that the martial arts are a great way to release tension and develop discipline. They are not about training to street fight. They are about skill, technique and precision.
Recommendation 10 is to increase the availability of day release or 'release on temporary license' to enable sports-based training and work placements. This is where prisoners leave the prison for a few days a week to undertake work or training. We took one of our trainers on a day release scheme and, for this person, it was a great way to ease back into both the workplace and community on release.
The Hard Yard has now closed and ceased trading due to lack of investment. However, we hope our work will inspire others + prove what is possible. As perceptions about prisoners and the role of our prisons change, we hope too will investment in innovation in the criminal justice system.
You can find the full report here (we're on page 83).