Sport and recreation

Sport and recreation, including Physical Education, is provided for all individuals who are committed to prison, and is organised so that all prisoners have the opportunity to participate.

Importance of sport and recreation

Involvement in sport and recreation activities helps to promote general self-confidence and the enjoyable and positive use of leisure time both during sentence and after release. Each establishment offers a range of provision, balanced between recreational activities and the opportunity to acquire recognised qualifications.


Courses are designed, delivered and assessed to national standards offering the opportunity for qualifications through national awarding bodies. These awards range from the dedicated awards, e.g., VQ in Sport & Recreation Level 2 in Exercise and Fitness, B.A.W.L.A. Introduction to Resistance Training, First-Aid at Work qualification and the Duke of Edinburgh Endeavour Award. In some cases these qualifications can allow individuals to aspire to eventual employment in the leisure industry or they can simply be useful to their communities.

On an annual basis these services are quality assessed to ensure they meet the requirements that are laid down by the leisure industry and the governing bodies of sport.

All prisoners can, on a voluntary basis, also take part in a fitness assessment and on a regular basis make an appointment to be re-tested

Examples of good practice

The sport and recreation section within each prison actively promotes good relationships and partnerships with governing sports bodies such as The Sports Council and with other providers within establishments such as the probation service, education, and training and employment sections. Their role is to contribute to the development of the individual prisoner and to assist them in setting goals and achieving their aims through sport and related activities.

New developments

New developments include:

  • the development of guidelines for Governors under which prisoners can undertake outdoor activities with trained instructors
  • the introduction of two new service-wide training courses for all prisoners in manual handling and basic first aid
  • the development of a policy so the Medical Officer can refer prisoners to the Sports Therapy Unit Within each Sport & Recreation Department

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