David Dein visited HMP Holme House in Stockton-on-Tees last month. It was a significant landmark for Dein, the former vice-chairman of Arsenal and the FA, and one of the people responsible for the creation of the richest league in world football. In the last six years, he has visited all 118 prisons in England and Wales. If there was a groundhopper badge for prisons, Dein would be a fully paid-up member of the 118 clubs.
Dein has been interested in the role football can play in prisoners’ rehabilitation for some time and now he is heading up a project that aims to reduce the chances of prisoners re-offending after their release. The rate of recidivism in the UK is alarmingly high, with 64% of prisoners re-offending within a year of being released. Allied to this, England and Wales have the highest incarceration rates in western Europe, with a total prison population of more than 85,000. That cycle of re-offending costs the country £15bn a year – more than £35,000 per prisoner.
When launching the Twinning Project, Dein said: “Football can be a powerful force for good and the Twinning Project will use this to help people change their lives when they are released from prison.” One of Dein’s former players at Arsenal, Ian Wright, was the master of ceremonies at the launch. When he was 19 and had not yet signed his first professional contract at Crystal Palace, Wright was sent to Chelmsford Prison for two weeks after he failed to pay driving offenses, an experience he calls his own “wake-up call”. Read More