Hardened criminals to be taught drama therapy


A RENOWNED Scots theatre has come up with a “new and different” way of preventing hardened criminals from reoffending – teaching them drama therapy.

Dangerous inmates at HMP Castle Huntly in Dundee will be offered classes in a bid to help address their challenges and problems.

The Dundee Rep theatre has secured funding for the three-year project, which will help try and steer prisoners towards a life back in the community.

And it is hoped that the “very effective” therapy will result in ex-convicts returning to prison to showcase their own drama pieces.

The project will take place at HMP Castle Huntly
The project will take place at HMP Castle Huntly

The therapy is already used in Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital, where the focus has been on helping prisoners feel empathy and remorse.

The Rep’s adult drama therapist Rose Sadowski will help the Scottish Prison Service work with the offenders near the end of their time in prison.

She said: “This is the first time the Rep has been involved in a project of this kind.

“Drama therapy has been used in prisons before and it has been very effective.

“It is first and foremost therapy, using creative means to help prisoners address the challenges and problems in their lives with the overall aim of breaking the offending cycle.”

During the first year therapy sessions will be held in the prison, with community work continuing after release with former inmates creating their own drama piece to bring back into prisons.

Rose added: “Drama gets a bad rap as many people think it is just having a laugh, but there is a serious side and I firmly believe it can give people a voice and transform lives.”

Meanwhile, The Royal Conservatoire Scotland has bid for funding to provide its own two-year drama workshop.

The two projects will add to a range of increasingly innovative schemes within Tayside’s prisons, including the opening of a community cafe within Castle Huntly.

Inmates will gain barista skills and train in specialist tea-making before gaining work experience with high street chains Pret a Manger and Costa.

Dundee councillor Helen Wright, convener of Tayside Community Justice Authority, said the projects represented “radical thinking” and should be commended.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser praised the collaboration, but said: “I would hope that the success of these programmes is reviewed in time to ensure that resources are used efficiently and prison still acts as a deterrent.”