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Prisons: Chess

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 103650, tabled on 13 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of promoting and supporting chess clubs throughout the prison estate.

Answered on

21 January 2022

We are supportive of all programmes that could potentially improve outcomes for offenders, including chess. Our association with the English Chess Federation (ECF) and other chess charities, has successfully promoted the game of chess in prisons, provided books and equipment for prisoners to use as well as establishing chess clubs in prisons to help prisoners participate in chess at all levels. In October 2021, a team from HMP Wandsworth and HMP Hollesley Bay, trained by the charity “Chess in Schools and Communities” participated in the Intercontinental Online Championship for Prisoners - that featured teams from 31 countries – HMP Wandsworth reached the final stages of the competition.

In terms of further expansion, prison governors remain best placed to make decisions on the right mix of sport and recreational activities that are offered in their establishments to meet the needs of their population.