Beats & Bars: Music in Prisons: an evaluation

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Cox A, Gelsthorpe L

Year of Publication:

The Irene Taylor Trust

Publication Type:


The evaluation was aimed at understanding the impact of the project on its participants’ engagement with purposeful activities whilst in prison, in particular the impact of the project on their engagement with the Learning and Skills department, as well as their behaviour and general well-being in prison. Seventy-one men participated in this evaluation. Seventeen members of prison staff across the establishments, including teachers, prison officers and governors, were also surveyed.

This evaluation is based on empirical observation and analysis of documentary data, interviews, focus groups, and survey questionnaires. It is the result of a sustained, in-depth evaluation of the process and outcomes of the music project by researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology.

The music project may create a pathway for some inmates to engage in the skills training that they need. 88 per cent (n=58/66) of the men indicated that they strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: this programme has given me more confidence to participate in other educational programmes.

The project carries the potential to play a role in facilitating an individual’s confidence to participate in education as well as their intellectual competencies; it serves to help individuals to build and maintain positive relationships with their families and with other individuals both inside and outside of prison; and it impacts positively on individuals’ thinking and emotions.

Evidence Type: Non-Randomised Evaluation

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Process Evaluation

Context: Forensic / Secure

Participant Group: Adults

Art Forms: Music

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Cox, A. and Gelsthorpe, L. (2008). Beats & Bars: Music in Prisons: an evaluation. The Irene Taylor Trust.