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Could the Key to Reducing Reoffending lie in Sports?

Audrey Reber, in her second blog, continues to explore the role of sports in reducing reoffending.


So, Could the key to reducing reoffending lie in sports?

The short answer is - yes!

Sports can reduce reoffending by acting as a diversion, instilling qualities of sportsmanship in young people, and working as a hook, getting them involved in interventions which support their desistance from crime[1]2.

69% of young people reoffend within a year of their release from prison, making reoffending a serious problem in the UK[2]. With exercise as one of its foundational pillars, 3Pillars Project believes that sport is part of the solution to this problem.

1. Sport as a Diversion

Engaging in any kind of sport can provide a positive distraction for young people once they leave prison. This can keep them away from associates, environments or activities that might encourage them to commit crime

2. Sport as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Sports are able not only to improve physical and mental wellbeing but can instil values of sportsmanship which may empower young people to live law-abiding lives and not reoffend.

Rugby, in particular, can teach its players the importance of discipline and respect as well as heighten their confidence, self-esteem and teamwork skills.

These characteristics are essential to supporting young people in overcoming their struggles and making positive and productive life choices.

“My mental willpower has increased remarkably” – 3Pillars Project course graduate3.

3. Sport as a Hook

Lastly, sports can act as a trojan horse, engaging some of the most challenging young people who are at risk of reoffending4.

Once involved, they can be encouraged to participate in wider intervention programmes to support their desistence from crime.

These may involve helping them to obtain educational qualifications, engage in employment opportunities and develop life skills.

[1] 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 February 2021]. 2 McMahon, D. and Belur, D., 2013. Sports-based Programmes and Reducing Youth Violence and Crime. Project Oracle Children and Youth Evidence Hub, [online] pp. 3-17 Available at: [Accessed 4 February 2021]. 3 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 February 2021]. 4National Alliance of Sport. 2021. The Rugby Journal profiles impact of 3 Pillars Project on offenders. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 February 2021].

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