Loughborough University academics contribute to policy paper on reducing youth offending through physical activity

A young person kicking a ball

Loughborough University researchers have contributed to a policy briefing on reducing youth offending and re-offending through physical activity which is part of a funding package from the Ministry of Justice's Youth Justice Sport Fund.

Colleagues from Loughborough University have worked in collaboration with the Sport for Development Coalition to produce a policy briefing on the importance of physical activity to reduce offending and re-offending.

This policy briefing, ‘Getting On Track: Reducing Youth Offending and Re-offending Through Sport and Physical Activity’, addresses key issues around youth offending and forms part of the Sport for Development Coalition's Open Goal framework.

This research, carried out by Dr Carolynne Mason and Dr Caron Walpole of the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences alongside colleagues from the University of Bath and Royal Holloway, University of London, was part of a £5m ‘Youth Justice Sport Fund’ commissioned by the Ministry of Justice which is managed and distributed by Coalition partners StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice and is aimed at supporting young people at risk of entering the criminal justice system. All of the 218 funded organisations used the same Theory of Change, developed by Loughborough University in collaboration with StreetGames and the Youth Endowment Fund, to design and deliver their projects. 

The report, which had five key policy recommendations, stated that policymakers must prioritise the importance of physical activity if they want to see a reduction in the levels of youth offending and re-offending. Crucially, the government must be utilising local groups embedded within local communities to maximise the impact of any policies in this area.

The five key policy recommendations were: 

  1. Invest in the professional development and wellbeing of the workforce and prioritise staff retention
  2. Utilise trusted specialist organisations to maximise the return on investment
  3. Strengthen partnership working between the youth justice and sport sectors to address the inconsistency and fragmentation in existing structures
  4. Support and empower organisations to commit to this work in the long term, to be agile and responsive to identified need, and exercise autonomy in their resource allocation
  5. Facilitate the meaningful involvement of beneficiaries and experts by experience

About the contributors

Dr Carolynne Mason from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences was Loughborough University’s main She is a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Social Justice researcher.

Carolynne has previously undertaken research and teaching roles within the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University, the School of Education at Leicester University, the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University and the Open University.

Dr Caron Walpole, also from the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences was part of the research team. She is an academic researcher who specialises in the use of sport for the prevention and reduction of serious youth violence.

Loughborough University Policy Unit

Loughborough University’s Policy Unit provides a channel for the University’s research and researchers to realise productive and beneficial impact on public policy, at local, national and international level through promoting an evidence-based approach to practical on-the-ground projects responding to public policy challenges.

If you’d like to get in contact with the Policy Unit, please email policy@lboro.ac.uk, or call +44 (0)20 3805 1343.

Sandy Robertson Policy Communications Officer