Government should recognise the ‘unique power’ of sport and physical activity to transform society, DCMS report recommends

Posted: Thu, 16 May 2019 12:09

Government should recognise the ‘unique power’ of sport and physical activity to transform society, DCMS report recommends

A new report published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has provided detailed recommendations about the power of sport and physical activity to transform cities and reduce crime. The report states that as well as the obvious health benefits of an active society, increasing the nation's participation in sport and physical activity can have wide-ranging social benefits too.

The report saw committees visit prisons, speaking to offenders, as well as rehabilitation centres across the country to investigate the impact sport can have on re offending rates. MPs concluded that those involved in sport are significantly less likely to return to crime and that regular sport and physical activity can have a long-term impact on re offending rates. Strong testimony came from a number of ex offenders, which led the committee to conclude that prisoner access to sport and physical activity should not be a lottery.

As well as the impressive impact sport has shown to have on criminality, the impact it has shown to have on communities was widely investigated as part of the report. Committee visits to Sunderland and Manchester provided evidence of the power of sport through partnerships with the cities' local football clubs. The evidence caused former adviser to the Prime Minister, Alistair Campbell, to say: "Former governments have only paid lip service to the power of sport, rather than genuinely understanding the benefits it could bring."

Key findings from the report are:

1) Re-offending rates can be reduced through access to sport or cultural programmes

2) Involvement in the arts and sports provides a constructive influence on young people with positive role models

3) Despite a link between sporting participation and educational attainment, sport is 'dropping off' the agenda within education

4) Arts subjects downgraded in schools

DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins MP said: "Culture and sport play a major role in how we see our nation. What we've focused on in our inquiry is the transformative power of culture and sport not just to enrich the value of our lives but to address a range of long-standing social problems.

"We cannot break the debilitating cycle of gang violence and knife crime just by arresting those who commit offences. Government statistics clearly show that custodial sentences in and of themselves do not necessarily rehabilitate young offenders. In schools we have seen that sport and culture can improve educational attainment as well as the well-being of the students. Social activities like group singing and walking football can improve the mental and physical health of those who take part. Creative arts organisations are taking the lead in regenerating communities, and major sports clubs are using the power of their appeal to change life chances for young people.

"Yet despite this and the many incredible case studies we have seen as part of this inquiry, there is a lack of a credible agenda to harness the power of culture and sport across government. More needs to be done to co-ordinate and invest in community initiatives, share evidence of success and encourage others to emulate examples of best practice."

You can read the full report, "Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport"

Tags: Communities, DCMS, Government, Sport