Our charity is proud to be run the Sikh Prison Chaplaincy Service and we provide both spiritual and pastoral care for all Sikhs in prison in the United Kingdom.
One of the areas in which we’d like to see more emphasis is in prison chaplaincy initiatives to help reduce reoffending rates. It’s a no brainer that if we can keep Sikhs who’ve been in prison, out of prison – that can only be for the betterment of the community, and wider society at large. Of course, once ex-offenders are out, there must also be opportunity to encourage them back into work, motivate them to contribute positively to their community and reengage with broader society as responsible citizens. Indeed, we believe gurdwaras, not just the National Probation Service or multiagency management have an important role to play in this regard.
In a House of Lords debate on prisons and radicalisation, our Director Lord Singh of Wimbledon highlighted the importance of reducing reoffending and our desire to reduce this for Sikhs.
He said: ‘I declare my interest as director of the Sikh Prison Chaplaincy Service. Does the Minister agree that chaplains must be at the forefront of any move to tackle radicalisation in prisons? To do this, they have to place dated social and political norms embedded in religious texts in the context of today’s times.’
He went on: ‘Will the Minister agree to meet me to discuss Sikh chaplaincy initiatives to do this and reduce reoffending rates, and how this experience might possibly be used to the benefit of other faiths?’
The NSO believes that a measure of the success of a positive, effective and engaged prison chaplaincy service must surely be a reduction in reoffending rates.
We will be following up to discuss this with the government and believe this aim should extend to prison chaplaincy services for all faiths and none.