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Taskforce on Physical Activity and Sport in the Criminal Justice System


It is widely acknowledged that physical activity and sport-based interventions can be cost-effective tools to stimulate wellbeing and be a force for positive social change.

According to Sport England, community sport and activity generated £85.5 billion of social and economic value in England and ‘every £1 spent on sport and physical activity generates an economic and social value of £3.91’.[1]

It is also recognised in the UK Government’s Beating Crime Plan that targeted and well evidenced sport-based interventions are one of many positive activities needed to cut crime.[2]

However despite a growing body of evidence and recognition, there is a gap in the leadership and coordination of efforts that, at present, inhibits the full and effective integration of physical activity and sport across communities, health and criminal justice. As a result, opportunities to address health inequalities, and prevent crime and reoffending are being missed.

The Taskforce will provide strategic oversight and advice to government so that it can:

  • Save and spend money more effectively
  • Maximise effective partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaboration
  • Increase coordination and quality assurance
  • Deliver and evaluate long-term outcomes

The findings will provide well thought-out solutions that provide the right balance between complementing existing plans and avoiding disproportionate costs and burdens on the public purse.

Scope and timing

We will adopt a public health approach as a framework for tacking inequalities and take a system-wide multi-agency approach to identify support for both the ‘high risk’ individuals and explore ‘upstream’ risk factors and primary prevention measures. This will help to identify the full range of opportunities linked to commissioning and the delivery and evaluation of long-term outcomes.

By May 2022, the Taskforce aims to launch a plan and vision for how the physical activity and sport sector can work more effectively with the Criminal Justice System.

It will explore, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Map relevant stakeholders, initiatives, related networks and their purposes to determine critical and central functions. This includes a stakeholder engagement process and opportunity for private, public and third sector organisations to contribute and submit evidence.
  • Engage experts with lived experience to provide valuable insights from their engagement with the Criminal Justice System and to help establish an ‘Experts by Experience’ Group to support the ongoing advancement of policy and practice.
  • Determine cross-cutting areas of policy intervention with respect to sport, health promotion and physical activity, community safety and criminal justice.
  • Establish and strengthen partnerships within and beyond government to identify longer-term investment and co-commissioning opportunities.
  • Identify common indicators to support future commissioning and lay the foundations for future initiatives to better evidence and communicate what does and doesn’t work.
  • Design a framework for collaboration and collective impact to provide evidence-based data to Ministers and key stakeholders whilst encouraging further cross-departmental collaboration.

Stakeholder engagement

NHS England and NHS Improvement have sponsored the Alliance of Sport to lead the work of the Taskforce. It will be chaired by Baroness Sater and invite decision makers and experts to join meetings, or appoint relevant members of their team to provide strategic oversight and contribute to the vision and plan submitted to Ministers in 2022.

The Taskforce will engage with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sport and Physical Activity in the Criminal Justice System to assist where it can draw on the broadest and strongest evidence base.

The Taskforce will deploy a Strategic Operations Group and work closely with other leading bodies and organisations from across the physical activity and sport sector. The Group will also provide strategic oversight and assist with engaging individuals, organisations and agencies who have experience and knowledge of physical activity and sport in the Criminal Justice System.

The Taskforce will consider relevant evidence to inform its advice and will draw on lived experience and academic and industry expertise as well as conduct research as relevant to supplement existing evidence.