Prison lockdown, Covid and gambling

Ella Rhodes reports.

The Forward Trust has begun research into gambling addiction in 19 UK prisons during the Covid-19 lockdown. The trust – a charity and social business, which delivers alcohol and drug recovery services in prisons and the community and supports offenders into employment – will carry out a survey into the extent of gambling during prison lockdown as well as developing self-help workbooks on gambling problems and supporting prisoners who are being released to find support for gambling problems. 

In the UK population there was an estimated 340,000 people who struggled with gambling in 2016 and, due to its experience working with more than 10,000 offenders each year, the Forward Trust has suggested problem gambling may be particularly prevalent in prison. During the Covid-19 lockdown people in prison stopped receiving face-to-face support and group work was also suspended potentially leading to higher rates of gambling due to prolonged periods of time being spent in cells with few leisure activities, existing treatment for gambling problems being stopped, and no access to face-to-face family visits. 

The research has been funded through a regulatory settlement, approved by the Gambling Commission and the Forward Trust should have its findings later this year.


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