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Select Committee on a National Plan for Sport and Recreation

Corrected oral evidence: National Plan for Sport and Recreation

Wednesday 24 February 2021

3.30 pm

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Members present: Lord Willis of Knaresborough (The Chair); Lord Addington; Baroness Blower; Baroness Brady; The Earl of Devon; Baroness Grey-Thompson; Lord Hayward; Lord Knight of Weymouth; Baroness Morris of Yardley; Lord Moynihan; Baroness Sater; Lord Snape.


Evidence Session No. 12              Virtual Proceeding              Questions 90 - 96



I: Justin Coleman, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice; Barry Jones MBE, Secretary and Founder, The Police Community Clubs of Great Britain; Professor Rosie Meek, Professor of Criminological Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London.



This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and webcast on




Examination of witnesses

Justin Coleman, Barry Jones and Professor Meek.

Q90            The Chair: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this session of the House of Lords Select Committee on a National Plan for Sport and Recreation. We are delighted to have with us our panel of witnesses. Justin Coleman is co-founder and chief operations officer of the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice. Welcome to you, Justin. Barry Jones MBE is secretary and founder of the Police Community Clubs of Great Britain. I am delighted to see you, Barry. Professor Rosie Meek is professor of criminological psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I extend a very special welcome to you, Rosie, as well. I hope you do not mind if we use your Christian names because we like to be very informal and friendly on this committee.

A transcript of this session will be published on the committee’s website. You will have the opportunity to make any corrections to the transcript that you feel are necessary. Members will ask a specific witness a question, but if others want to answer as well please feel free to do so. If somebody has provided an answer to a question that you think is perfect, please do not feel you have to answer. I think that takes up unnecessary time.

Barry, I am going to start with you. The committee is not simply interested in sporting excellence, although that is clearly of real value to us. We are very interested in the concept of sport for development that has appeared. While it is not in the new Sport England framework, it appears in another form of words and links sport and recreation to other goals, in particular tackling antisocial behaviour, deprivation, et cetera. How do you feel that the idea of sport for development is defined? How is it different from the delivery of other sport and recreational offers—for example, to people living in deprived areas?

Barry Jones: I have given it some thought. Effectively, I go back to my original simple statement. I feel that sport for development is simply having a goal to drive social change through sport. That is effectively what we seek to do in everything that the Police Community Clubs do with hard-to-reach groups.

The Chair: Justin?

Justin Coleman: In relation to sport for development, it is quite simply summed up from our perspective in the context of the criminal justice system. It is about making people better, if you will, rather than just better athletes. It is about helping people to become better rather than just better athletes, which sport development or sport for development does. In the context of the prison estate or the secure estate, and in fact across the criminal justice system, it is helping people be positively identified within their communities, supporting their processes of change, et cetera. Sport for development can offer a stable platform when you have decent relationships and the ability to focus on other things such as homelessness, health and well-being, within those contexts, and not just sport itself.

The Chair: Justin, how should that be financed? Which pot should it come from?

Justin Coleman: At the moment, the prison estate and secure estate has multiple funding streams because it is a whole series of interventions, such as health. It is funded through the Ministry of Justice, the NHS, education and services such as that. In terms of funding, it needs to be reviewed seriously, including how it is identified. The sport for development sector is an emerging theme that needs to be ring-fenced and where that finance comes from needs to be looked at properly.

The Chair: Where would you like it to come from?

Justin Coleman: From the sport sector, DCMS, Sport England and Sport Wales, because personally I think it fits best there. It also fits in very well with the health sector.

The Chair: They do not have any money, Justin.

Justin Coleman: None of us do. It is very much about us working together on that—there are some great funders out there, such as London Marathon Charitable Trust, Comic Relief, et cetera—to look at these things and prove what sport can do and what sport for development can do. So, yes, I guess it is about working together on that one.

The Chair: Rosie?

Professor Meek: As Justin explained, when we are looking at the role of sport in justice settings we need to think creatively about the multitude of ways that it can be used, not just as a diversion activity but as a way of instilling life and communication skills, or simply as a way of encouraging people to engage in more positive, prosocial relationships, be that with family members or the professionals with whom they come into contact.

When we talk about the funding of these initiatives, part of the problem lies in the fact that we rely on disparate forms of funding and a lot of this work is more disjointed than we would argue it needs to be. We need a coordinated effort to have the best impact, particularly in terms of justice settings. Unfortunately, I do not think we have that at this time.

Q91            Lord Knight of Weymouth: Rosie, I want to follow up with you, but the others might have something to say. The Chair’s question talked about definition. You all talk about sport, and I see the importance of sport, but we are also looking at recreation. I know that your report mentioned the English Chess Association. That is not one that we associate with activity, but it is recreation. I know that a long time ago you looked at horses in Portland. How do you see that balance, and where should we be focused between sport and recreation and activity in terms of what is done in the criminal justice estate in particular?

Professor Meek: I would urge you to take the stance that I take, which is that we should be as broad in our understanding of sport and recreation as we can be. Who are we to say that engaging in a game of chess, short-mat bowls, team sports or working with equine therapy, to take the example you gave, does not have the same benefit? I often argue that sport is certainly one of the solutions to the terrible situation that our justice system is in currently, but I certainly would not say that it is the only solution. When we think more widely about the role of the arts, we will also see other solutions. I would always argue that we should have a fairly broad understanding of sport and recreation. That was one of the reasons I was pleased to see that your committee title includes the term “recreation”.

Justin Coleman: To add and echo that, in relation to the definition of sport for development, we are also looking at the fact that sport itself and sport and physical activity is a lifelong activity. However, the criminal justice system itself and the context in which we see it in, should not be a lifelong activity. Sport has that positive pathway, and by definition goes beyond the criminal justice system. It should be longer than that because it is for life. For example, a football club fan can be a fan forever—there are these kinds of elements.

Baroness Morris of Yardley: I want to follow up what has been said about funding. Sometimes in life strengths become weaknesses. In defining this area, you talked about how it could have an impact across a whole range of activities and how it can be visible everywhere. That is its great strength, but in terms of funding that becomes its great weakness and you end up, as Justin said, wanting pots of money from everyone.

Rosie, I was not sure whether you acknowledged that was a problem and, therefore, that you would not want the funding to come from everywhere. My question is: how do you stop it being quite important to a whole lot of people and not sufficiently important to anyone to really make the difference?

Professor Meek: That is a great question and it is part of the issue. When we look in particular at prisons and the justice system, we need to see accountability. Ultimately, the Ministry of Justice is the accountable party and needs to make operational decisions. We also need to see genuine cross-departmental working. You will all know better than I how challenging it can be to draw together health, education, DCMS and justice, but until we see that and have it operationalised in all sorts of different contexts we will not be fulfilling the real potential of sport, particularly in my area of interest, to reduce crime, which is in everybody’s best interests, not least as a way of saving the taxpayer and the public purse.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Barry, before we move on to the next question, do you have a view on where the funding should come from?

Barry Jones: I do. If I may clarify my answer to the first question, I was not referring specifically to the justice system, although we have been involved with it. As to funding and what my organisation is particularly interested in, I think it should come from government or Sport England, Sport Wales or whatever. The importance of funding reputable deliverers, in which category we would place ourselves, should be taken seriously and strongly considered, because there are a lot of people in the areas in which we work who are involved in delivering programmes that we have discovered are unsatisfactory and, in many cases, not up to what would be expected of those operating in this particular field.

Our involvement with the justice system has been on the periphery inasmuch as, while we have a huge involvement with the police service and community projects with them, we have done very little within prison establishments. We feel that what we have done has been absolutely great work, but all of it is funded generally by money that we acquire through running a business, which makes us slightly different from all the scenarios that have just been mentioned. We run a limited company just to raise money to put back into community projects. That is how we work.

The Chair: Thank you for that, Barry. I am going to move on now to Lord Snape. 

Q92            Lord Snape: How do we know if development programmes are effective? How do you measure impacts? Could you perhaps define good practice in this particular area?

Justin Coleman: I guess that in measurement we need to involve more professors, such as Rosie Meek, more research teams and encourage more university research itself and academic processes. We also need to look at the measurement frameworks. In my personal opinion, we have to stop the silos of measurements that are happening across all of the criminal justice estate, where there is a variety of partners operating. We all have different KPIs and ways of measuring things[1]. There needs to be some form of rigour around sport as well, to merge and look at measurement in a more holistic way, to be able, in our context, to reduce reoffending or improve the prevention of crime through academic and impact measurement channels.

The Chair: Rosie, do you have anything to add?

Professor Meek: I have dedicated much of my research career to this. We need to be able to demonstrate the impact of this work to justify prioritising it at all. We have some great tools at our disposal in this country. We have the Justice Data Lab initiative. If you are not familiar with that, it enables us to monitor the reduction in proven reoffending for those who take part in a given intervention, matching participants against those with the same characteristicsbut that will not give us evidence until two years after release and it relies on a large sample size.

We also need to be more effective in looking at intermediate outcomes. I have dedicated a lot of work to this in looking at various outcomes around health, education and so on. We need more immediate scrutiny of the impact of current programmes and whether they work well, and what lessons can be taken from existing programmes in terms of scaling them up, which is often a real challenge. All of us can probably think of excellent, small-scale examples of interventions or programmes that rely very much on the fantastic abilities of perhaps one or two individual people to drive the programme. The million-dollar question is: how can we then scale up the incredible impacts of these programmes nationally and in a multi-site way? That is where monitoring and evaluation is so important. That was why one of the recommendations in my review was that we needed a more coherent monitoring and evaluation strategy.

The Chair: Barry, do you have anything to add?

Barry Jones: All I can say is that I take on board everything that Rosie says and agree with her. I just do not see it being an exact science. It is very difficult to evaluate just how much influence you have with the subjects who go through your programmes. We are slightly privileged in our organisation in that we tend to react to requests from chief officers. They know the sort of work that we do; they will ask us to get involved in a certain problem in their locality. We are fortunate enough to be able to address most of those either with off-the-shelf programmes and projects or a team we can put together to provide a bespoke programme for a chief officer.

For some of those we have done, particularly in Durham and in Met Police areas, we have some feedback and carry out our own level of evaluation, which is a good example for us to identify whether what we are doing is getting results or otherwise. I reiterate that I do not think evaluation is an exact science in this area of working with problems within communities, but there is some out there and I am always interested to see other people’s evaluations of their projects, as referred to by Professor Meek.

Baroness Brady: I would love to hear from anyone who can give us a flavour of a project that is working. How do you measure its effectiveness, what it costs and how it is funded?

The Chair: There is a challenge for you. Who would like to start on that? Rosie, you are smiling, so I will give you the chance.

Professor Meek: Justin will probably have several examples on which he can draw in his role in the Alliance of Sport. One of the wonderful roles the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice plays is to showcase a wide range of interventions. Justin, do you want to mention something, or would you like me to do so?

Justin Coleman: I will happily have a go, and please follow up. At the moment we are looking at some projects, for example, levelling the playing field in the youth justice estate. This involves approximately 80 supporting partners, sport in the community and the youth justice system, and further supported by the Youth Justice Board.

As to the measurement we have started to use there, we are moving everything towards two common goals. We are looking at underrepresentation of sport and physical activity in the community by ethnical diverse young people, and overrepresentation of ethnically diverse young people in the criminal justice system. We are using the role of sport and physical activity to effect prevention of young people going into the criminal justice system, then impact on those in the criminal justice system, and how we can further use the community to help them through the gate and back into a better and more positive community environment.

We are using measurements with the University of Birmingham; we are working with them[2]. Rosie is on the board there as well, helping with measurements around the research. We are also helping community organisations to start to think about their impact and the ways in which they are measuring them over a long period of time. So we are putting in plenty of training and communication channels so that people can work together and communicate across multiple channels of communication, with organisations speaking together at any one time. So it is a movement and measurement framework that spans across the community and in the criminal justice system at the same time.

In the youth justice estate, we are working with multiple partners at the moment to try to understand how we can help it start to lift physical activities from the Covid restrictions, et cetera, and in the community it is the same. In the near future, hopefully, those actions will start again and have an impact on these communities. We want to capitalise on those measurements moving forward. It is those sorts of projectsand I guess there are others in the community that Rosie might want to follow up.

The Chair: Rosie, while you are following up, one of the things we are worried about as a committee is that there are lots of initiatives and bits of money going into initiatives, but how is that coordinated and driven through so that we get a comprehensive attack and approach? I am totally bemused because I cannot see it anywhere.

Professor Meek: You are right. There is a widespread range of programmes. I think that is part of the wonderful landscape that we have but also part of the challenge. To give Baroness Brady a very simple example, many of you will be familiar with parkrun as a community initiative. We have been working on developing it in prison populations. It is very cheap—effectively almost free. It is community led and has an enormous impact in encouraging people to be physically active and maintain that level of physical activity after release from prison. Aside from the physical health benefits, there are some important psychological benefits in terms of feeling part of a supportive community and part of a pro-social peer group, and being able to access something positive and free on a Saturday morning, perhaps with one’s children, in the local area.

That is just one example of something that is almost free. It relies on the prison supporting the initiative. It is the cost in kind that can be more challenging when we talk about the prison context. It is not so much the financial cost; it is the implication of bringing on board prison staff and the governor, making sure the physical space is available and that individual prisoners can be given access to a certain activity. That sort of initiative of which I give an example goes beyond the financial outlay. It is more about a strategic, joinedup approach, which I mention because it goes back to your second question, Lord Willis, about coordination. I think that is one of the main issues of accountability for making sure these programmes are delivered and why organisations such as Justin’s Alliance and other organisations that you will hear from later this afternoon are so important in coordinating programmes, sharing and disseminating examples of good practice, and making sure that programmes are being delivered in the most effective way, because ultimately that is what we all want.

The Chair: Lord Snape, I would like to get evidence from the second part of your supplementary.

Lord Snape: Let me put my fellow ex-sapper on the spot now. I address this directly to you, Barry. Where is the evidence about the impact of sport and physical activity on rehabilitation, deterrence or the prevention of criminal behaviour? Can you point to a specific example, or a number of examples, that would help the committee?

Barry Jones: I can think of a number of projects we have done that have proved fruitful with regard to rehabilitation. I will not linger on the prison project unless you want me to, because that was a one-off project that was very successful as far as we are concerned. Our formation of police community clubs across the country has been a great success. I personally have seen many, many youngsters whom we have attracted, who have been involved not only in crime but on the periphery of crime, who have joined our clubs and stayed with them. Before this session started, I thought I ought to have done some research on the number of young people we have had from the criminal fraternity, or on the periphery of the criminal fraternity, who have come into our clubs and gone on to run clubs of their own.

The formation of police community clubs has been so successful, but, again, that has had little or no funding. I do not want to sound like an advert; I just want to give evidence. We currently have about 40 clubs, with a waiting list of well over 50, but they are all run by volunteers; none are funded greatly in what they do and they depend so much on peripheral funding, as Rosie mentioned, from different areas. For single clubs like ours funding is not easy to come by, but there is a need to get it all coordinated, where funders can understand exactly where the real need is.

The Chair: Rosie, could you concentrate on the impact to which Lord Snape referred? That is really important to us. We can come back to finance later. Justin?

Justin Coleman: In relation to the impact and the measurement of it, you find that in the review A Sporting Chance led by Professor Meek in 2018. That was when the report was generated. There is a lot of evidence there in a central location and space. We also have other reviews that have taken place. Maybe it is about coordinating some of those reviews and bringing them together. For example, the Lammy review touches on this sort of thing, and the Farmer review on families, et cetera, touches on physical activity, we should be looking at them in a central location.

On impact measurement, we need a framework that will allow us to measure the impact. There are developments around certain systems going into and linking with the prison system, and the secure estate as well. I believe that is going through into the court systems and police systems as well, to help map and monitor some of the impact that it is having.

The Chair: I am going to leave you, Rosie, because the next question will allow you to answer that question as well. Lord Addington, do you have a quick question?

Lord Addington: What is the classic cock-up in this area? What is the intervention that is well meaning but classically falls apart? That is something I would be quite interested in hearing about.

The Chair: I would like just one example, because it would be too depressing to hear a lot of them. Rosie, would you like to give me an example of a classic cock-up?

Professor Meek: An unintended cock-up is when we have very short-scale interventions that are very well meaning. I will keep my answer brief, but I am sure you can understand what I mean. It is particularly damaging in prison populations where a great programme is delivered for just a few weeks and there is no long-term support following on from that. That can do more harm than good.

The Chair: Thank you. I am going to move on now to Baroness Sater.

Lord Snape: Chair, forgive me for a minute. I am sorry to come back on this, but I think it would be valuable, as far as the committee’s eventual report is concerned, if we could produce some evidence that sport and recreation has had a beneficial impact on the rehabilitation particularly of young people. Perhaps our witnesses can go away and put together some evidence for us, if they cannot produce it this afternoon. I cannot overstress the importance of being able to say, “Look, this is how successful this has been in rehabilitation”.

Professor Meek: I can answer that briefly. I can reassure you that much of my work looks at this. I am happy to provide copies, but, in sum, the work I have been doing in prisons has tended to take an approach that looks not just at reoffending statisticswhich of course are importantbut other measures such as people’s attitudes towards offending, or their willingness to go into education or employment, or their relationships with their families and staff members. A really valuable measure that I use a lot is violent incidents within prisons before a sports-based intervention is delivered and afterwards. There are massive changes there.

You may be familiar with the excellent work of Brighton Table Tennis Club, which I support in going into a number of prisons. We have been able to demonstrate exactly that. A fairly straightforward and low-cost table tennis-based intervention has resulted in significant reductions in violent incidents—both self-inflicted violence, which we know is an enormous issue within our prisons, and prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff violence. That is just one element of demonstrating impact that I would be happy to share further.

The Chair: We take up Lord Snape’s comment there that, if you have specific examples that would help us in the report, we would be very grateful for them.

Q93            Baroness Sater: Can I first declare two interests? I am a member of Salcombe Yacht Club and I am a member of the Hurlingham Club.

We have touched on quite a few of the programmes and impacts that have been very successful. We know that there are some really good programmes out there delivering excellent work. Rosie, you touched on upscaling a lot of these programmes. We know about the benefits for young people in life skills, work, mental health and well-being from these programmes.

On the bigger picture of sport in the community as well as the justice system, what do you think are the main barriers or challenges to delivering high-quality sport for development programmes? My focus is on Barry and Justin, but, Rosie, can I put to you a separate question? What progress has been made—we touched on this—on the implementation of the recommendations in your report? Maybe you can give us a flavour of where your recommendations got to. What is the state of play today potentially in prisons? Can you give us an overview? Have things improved, or not? It would be really helpful to hear a little bit about that. Justin, would you like to kick off?

Justin Coleman: In relation to the question, the direction that we suggest should be taken is a person-centred one, by which I mean that every intervention we are trying to deliver at the moment needs to be based on need and on the fact that, if we are going to scale something up, it might be scaled up in one city and be needed there and scaled up somewhere else where it is not. It is about listening to and working with the communities where we are trying to have an impact.

We have spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks and months working with Novus, for example, which is an education provider in the custodial and prison estate, listening to young people, what it is they want and how they want it, and trying to look at how we can connect that to lifelong provision across the estate and then into the community, to which they will go back. For example, we would not put something on in the establishment that is really expensive. It raises the expectations of young people, they get released, and ultimately, they just cannot access that sport or activity.

Person-centred approaches may be slightly more costly and time consuming, in the short term, but they work for the long term. I think it is about listening to the needs of the young people and the staff around them, and working with them to look at what is possible. I know that is not a quick answer, but it is definitely an approach that we have taken and is working.

The Chair: Barry, would you like to respond to that?

Barry Jones: Primarily, I think the main barriers and challenges are the lack of finance and the capacity of national governing bodies to be able to address the question of high-quality sport in our type of development work. I am sorry to keep banging on about finance, but it is a major issue for us in trying to do whatever we can in the context of working with hard-to-reach communities. We are rather lucky because we do have a network of clubs that we can work with, quite apart from the national governing body clubs, of which we are all a part. However, one thing we have discovered with a lot of our programmes is that funding is short term. It needs to be more long term so that we can get the results we seek. That is all I would say about that.

Baroness Sater: Barry, you mentioned issues around the national governing bodies. Can you expand on that a little?

Barry Jones: Issues with regard to capacity?

Baroness Sater: Yes. You said you were generally having issues with the national governing bodies. Are there other things?

Barry Jones: Not specific issues; no, not at all. In fact, I have a high regard for our own national governing body. I am talking about England Boxing. But they do not have the capacity within the framework of the funding that they get seriously to address the challenges of development programmes.

The Chair: Rosie?

Professor Meek: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect a little bit on the review. I delivered this almost exactly three years ago. Two and a half years ago the Government published it alongside their adoption of 11 of my 12 recommendations. Since that point I have been keeping a close eye on changes to policy and practice. In some areas I have seen more development than in others. We have seen some really good developments around better use of sport and physical activity as part of our youth justice reforms.

I have been delighted to see the youth estate embracing the recommendations, and even having its own action plans against my recommendations. I am also delighted to see that the women’s estate has responded to my recommendation of a dedicated physical activity strategy for women and girls in prison, because, although they make up a small proportion of the prison population, we know they are the least active and most vulnerable population within our prisons. Some of the stories that women in prisons told me as part of my review were quite shocking. I am relieved to hear that there have been some developments there.

To be realistic, there are about 78,000 people in prison at the moment, of whom about 95% are adult men. That is where I have seen less progress than I would like to. We know that this is a very vulnerable group overall. A quarter of people in prison have been in care; half have identified as being anxious and depressed, with high levels of self-harm and learning difficulties. We also know that, contrary to what people might think, our prison population is an ageing one. The over-60s represent the fastest-growing group within our prisons now. That has tripled over the past 16 years. We now have as many over-60s in prison as we have people under the age of 21, which is quite a shocking statistic.

The Chair: Good heavens.

Professor Meek: The reason I mention that is that when we think about encouraging a holistic physical activity strategy in our prisons, which is one of my overarching recommendations, we are not seeing that because prisons have not adapted to recognise the changing needs of their populations. It is not hard to find some great programmes that may target the fit, the active and the engaged in our prisons, but I am more interested in how we can reach the broader population as best we can. That is why there have been calls for a national strategy for older people in prison, and your strategy and plan should link to that in terms of embedding health outcomes as well as other outcomes related to sport and physical activity in our prisons.

I am happy to talk more about my recommendations. You may already know that the one recommendation the Government did not adopt was that they should reconsider the current ban on anything to do with martial arts or boxing in prison. I mention that because a fellow witness will have an interest in that, I think. Frustratingly, in my report I provided evidence that there is a role for martial arts-based programmes in our prisons, and that prison governors should be given the choice to decide what sorts of programmes they offer in their prisons. Currently, that is not the case in this regard.

You asked me to reflect a little bit on the current situation with Covid. Over the past year we have seen a huge reduction in access to physical activity in our prisons. There has been a suspension of education and rehabilitative work and exercise to a large extent, but, looking more positively, we have seen, and we have had to recognise, that in our prisons there is a place for technology. I mention that because usually there is no place for technology in our prisons.

There is also a place for supporting in-cell physical activity guidance. You may have heard of a wonderful individual called LJ Flanders, who himself is an ex-prisoner and provides support through his book Cell Workout, which he tells me is now available as part of the incell guidance that the prison service has coordinated. For me, that is a welcome addition.

We are starting to think a bit more creatively about how we can encourage people in prisons to be physically active. Part of that is making better use of the outdoor space in our prisons, which to date is underused to a large extent.

Part of my argument here is that we can learn lessons from Covid about being a bit more creative. In doing so, we might see better progress towards some of my recommendations about a more coordinated, joinedup approach to encouraging physical activity, not just as a way to encourage people to be physically healthier but to encourage them to be psychologically healthier, to become more proactive in taking control of their lives in more positive directions, to become more engaged in education and to have a meaningful route into employment, which we know sport really can offer, particularly for young men or men who may have become quite disaffected as a result of their previous negative experiences of education. I can think of many, many examples of that.

The Chair: I am going to stop you there. Baroness Sater, do you want to come back, or are you happy with that response?

Baroness Sater: I am happy, but I want to extend that question to Justin.

The Chair: Very quickly.

Baroness Sater: It is about early intervention and diversionary work with young people, and how sport and physical activity can make a real difference. Is there one recommendation that you could make that you think would bring improvements in that area?

The Chair: One would be great, Justin.

Justin Coleman: In relation to that, we need to take into account the 1.5 million cases that magistrates’ courts deal with, on average, per year. When you start to look at the number of cases they are dealing with, that is a lot of people who are involved in the criminal justice system and impacted by crime. Therefore, while we are looking at the justice system and the prison system, we also have other parts of the criminal justice system, which, as Barry will attest, the police and courts are dealing with. I guess it is about using that leverage in the sense of prevention, because those who go into the criminal justice system as witnesses and victims are as important as those going through it, and who are then set towards rehabilitation. That is where you will also have a large human impact on the prevention aims, where sport fits in and making those offers available to them.

The Chair: Barry, do you have a quick response?

Barry Jones: We are involved in a number of programmes.

The Chair: Just one.

Barry Jones: All I can say is that a great deal is to be achieved by engaging with community programmes, particularly where you can bring on board those volunteers in the police service, but I will not go further than that because it has been adequately covered already.

The Chair: Barry, I would like to tell you that in 1956 I was the beaten finalist in the boxing championships representing Burnley police youth cluband look where I am now. I will move on now to duty of care.

Q94            Baroness Blower: Perhaps Barry would answer this question first. How do you address both the duty of care and diversity and inclusion to provide a safe and welcoming environment for the people with whom you are working?

Barry Jones: As we major in Olympic boxing, it would be right for me to tell you that, as the compliance manager at England Boxing, it was my task over a period of two years working directly with the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit in Leicester to formulate the safeguarding procedures for amateur boxing. I managed to do that. Since retiring from the Amateur Boxing Association, our organisation now not only provides the material and physical safeguarding manuals but administers it for the whole sport. So whenever we are engaged with community projects, it takes a primary role.

Having said that, I have also read Baroness Grey-Thompson’s report. All I can say is that I applaud the idea of having an ombudsman for sport, but in the main it refers to elite sportsmen, and I really have not had a lot of experience in that sector.

The Chair: Rosie?

Professor Meek: When we talk about duty of care, we would do well to reflect on the fact that, with regard to people in the justice system, we are thinking about those who are increasingly vulnerable. They are more likely to have had adverse childhood experiences and wind up in the justice system partly as a result of their vulnerabilities. That needs to be taken into account when we are designing programmes, and all too often it is not. As I mentioned before, we have some very well-meaning initiatives that simply do not take off because they are not really adapted for use with justice populations.

I would also argue that we should not expect this to fall to the Ministry of Justice; it needs to be a genuinely cross-departmental approach. Including education as part of that is particularly important. When we look at vulnerabilities, we know that children who are excluded from school are much more likely to wind up in our justice system.

Another organisation I would like to champion is the Dallaglio RugbyWorks programme, which works particularly with children, including those at risk of exclusion. These are the sorts of initiatives that have at their heart duty of care and safeguarding, but also longer-term aspirations around improving educational aspirations and educational outcomes.

Justin Coleman: I echo all the things that have been said already, but the sport sector is a lifelong provision. Therefore, if it is something that can be there alongside the other aspects like health, social care and, shall we say, arts, culture, the media and social media at the moment, they impact on people’s entire life course.

As Rosie mentioned, people suffer trauma within the estate and because of crime and criminal activity. Trauma is also a matter of lifelong recovery, so some of these provisions need to consider lifelong support; otherwise, we are just retraumatising all the time. It is about how we look at those provisions and do not set things up and then stop them, because that automatically retraumatises as well. If short-term intervention is connected to long-term provision, it has a better impact with greater awareness and longevity for young people and adults within the system and the capacity of the system.

Baroness Blower: The answers on safeguarding and duty of care were very full. Can I press Barry just a little on the second aspect of the question about diversity and inclusion, and creating a safe and welcoming environment? Clearly, the environment is the environment in prisons and so on, but we are not talking about prisons in the work you do, Barry. Do you have any further remarks you would like to make about inclusion, diversity and safe and welcoming environments?

Barry Jones: It is true that the Police Clubs of Great Britain targets hard-to-reach groups. That obviously includes people from various communities, various religions and organisations that we deal with. To engage with exactly these people is near the top of our agenda, if not at the top of it. We have gone to great lengths to get involved in mosques and with Travellers. We feel that we have been very successful. All I can say about it is that we take that part of the community extremely seriously, and we are always willing to find avenues of engagement even beyond what we do.

The Chair: I am going to move finally to Lord Knight, who has been very patient.

Q95            Lord Knight of Weymouth: As always, Chair. This question requires discipline as well as brevity. If we were to allow you one recommendation, and one only, for us to put in our report that you think would make a tangible difference, what would it be?

Professor Meek: In the interests of brevity, I would remind colleagues that, when I look at these programmes, relationships that are fostered through them are equally, or actually more, important than the sporting or recreational component. The sports element can be a great hook on which to engage people, but let us not forget that it is about the people who are delivering those programmes and building up rapport and trust who have the greatest impact. So let us support and resource those people and make sure we have the right ones delivering those programmes.

Lord Knight of Weymouth: Thank you. I think I know what you mean. I am not sure how I would write that up as a recommendation.

Professor Meek: You asked for brevity; I was responding to the brief.

As to the recommendation, my argument is that when we articulate a theory of change about how these programmes have an impact, which is what we are talking about today, one of the key components comes down to the relationships fostered between delivery staff, for example, be they coaches, volunteers or people coordinating sports-based programmes, and the young people and adults in their care receiving the programmes. What I am arguing here is that we should not overlook the importance of that relationship in terms of how influential it can be in helping people desist from crime and become more active and engaged citizens, and indeed simply to become more physically active with the benefits of that.

Sometimes we get too hung up on the sporting component, which can be important. Whether it is a team sport or something that engages and interests people is important, but it is also about relationships. We need to make sure that, if we are offering sports-based interventions to vulnerable and complex individuals, the staff and volunteers who are part of that are sufficiently equipped to deal with it in the most effective way and to have the most positive impact.

Justin Coleman: As to one recommendation, for me it would be in two parts, an (a) and a (b). The first one is to define what sport for development is a lot further so that everyone understands the difference between that and sport development. A colleague of mine that I was talking to yesterday said that sport for development is an intervention platform, and sport itself and physical activity is a lifelong provision; it is something that can carry across the life course. Where does sport for development fit within that? Where does that lifelong service or provision fit in with other lifelong channels, and how does it relate to them and support them, and vice versa? How do they support those lifelong channels? So it would be a review of this and an ask that we celebrate that kind of provision that sport can offer, but also what sport for development does.

Lord Knight of Weymouth: Thank you. I think there is pretty much a recommendation there around definition review and then asking government to find ways to sustain that on a lifelong basis. Barry?

Barry Jones: I will be even briefer. It is about the Government recognising the value of non-governing body programmes and seriously considering us when deciding where funding should be placed.

Lord Knight of Weymouth: Back to funding.

Barry Jones: Back to funding—sorry, yes.

The Chair: Funding is a big issue for you, Barry. I think members of the committee have got it quite clear. Lord Hayward, did you want to ask anything before I wrap up?

Q96            Lord Hayward: I want to follow up what Lord Addington asked. I thought Rosie’s answer to him was extremely good. Being honest is great news. I just ask the other two witnesses if there is one thing they keep hearing people suggest and they think, “Oh, no. We’ve heard it all before and it just doesn’t work”. I do not know whether Justin or Barry have an immediate thought about that. It is not negative; it is just being realistic.

Barry Jones: I am more than happy to respond to that very briefly. I am very disappointed by the fact that everyone seems to think—this touches slightly on what Rosie said—that the sport of boxing per se should never be in prisons, when we have clearly demonstrated that it is a method of engaging with prisoners, provided it is to do with sports coaching. However much you press the argument about sports coaching, particularly boxing in prisons, everyone gives the same response as you have said—that it will never work. The problem is that people in positions of power who can agree such a prospect in a prison tend to have the perception that teaching someone to be a sports coach, whether it be in boxing, football or whatever, but particularly boxing, will turn them into more violent people. It is absolutely the opposite.

Justin Coleman: In relation to that, I suppose it is the fact that sport itself needs to admit it is not the solution; however, it is a part of the solution and needs to work in partnership with other sectorsthe prison estate in our context, and also communities. Therefore, it is part of the solution, absolutely. I always say that sport is the solution and it is something we need to bear in mind, but there are other aspects to consider when we look at trauma and recovery from anything, or even coping with the traumas that people are dealing with on a daily basis. We need partnership with other specialists, within the mix to make things work.

The Chair: On that note, I thank our three witnesses. I think the committee will agree that we have had an absolutely splendid hour with Justin Coleman, Barry Jones and Professor Rosie Meek. Thanks to all of you for your answers and the way you have tolerated me and the committee. We would like some response on the issue of measuring impact. That really important issue has come out in this session and we would be grateful for any further evidence on that. With that, I now suspend this sitting.


[1] Note by Witness: this MoJ blog, dated 18/08/2015, summarises the entire Criminal Justice System’s data collection points within the context of the CJS being Not a system at all - Mapping new ideas for the digital justice system - Government Digital Service ( – it is a mix of KPI’s and organisations objectives that do not communicate directly with each other, but operate in silo’s.

[2] Note by Witness: using the sector-wide developed (from across CJS, Health, Sport, Sport for Development) and academically scrutinised Theory of Change | National Alliance of Sport as a very stable foundation to build an ‘Impact Framework’ for Levelling the Playing Field together with the University of Birmingham, we are now able to use this framework to help evidence the operational outputs on what sport for development can do to increase sustainable physical activity participation and positive connection in communities, whilst reducing victimisation, imprisonment and re-offending of ethnically diverse children/young People.