27 Mar 2023
This executive summary sets out the key findings and summary recommendations of Available but not
Accessible, a mixed-methods research study to explore the availability and accessibility of purposeful activities
for Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller people within the criminal justice system (CJS).
Engagement with purposeful activities and time out of cells are important for prisoner’s mental and social
as well as being important for future rehabilitation and opportunities upon release2. Given the
overrepresentation of Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller people within the CJS3
and high levels of reoffending4
it is crucial to address any barriers to their engagement with activities which may impact on life chances on
release. Importantly, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) prisoners report feeling unsafe, discriminated against
and have higher rates of mental ill health and substance misuse5
than other prison populations, all of which
could potentially be improved by engagement with suitable activities. To gain a comprehensive understanding
of Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller prisoners’ engagement with purposeful activities, this study used a mixed
methods approach to explore prison statistics, and the experiences of both Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller
prisoners and CJS staff with experience of working with these prisoners.
This study found that Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller people are engaging with ‘purposeful activities’6, but
these activities are rarely suited to the needs of Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller individuals, and therefore,
are not acting as effective tools for rehabilitation and for improving mental wellbeing in prisons.