G4S - UK's toughest debating competition goes behind bars

This week, the UK's toughest debating competition, Debating Matters will this week go behind bars to train prisoners at HM Prison Birmingham

Debatting matters beyond bars

The UK’s toughest debating competition, Debating Matters, will this week go behind bars to train prisoners at G4S-managed HM Prison Birmingham in the art of debating.
Debating Matters Beyond Bars, the UK’s only prisoner versus prisoner debating competition, sees 24 prisoners in six teams tackle thought-provoking topics such as should a secular society prevent people from acting on their beliefs and whether sports people should be seen as role models.
what's up for debate

Employers from across the West Midlands will attend the heats on Thursday 31 August and watch the prisoners using their newly acquired skills in action.

The grand final will take place in the prison’s chapel on Monday 4 September with the two winning teams from the heats debating the final motion on the right to be forgotten online.

Director at HM Prison Birmingham, Richard Stedman, said:

“The men in our care at Birmingham stay with us for an average of just six weeks and we have a very short window of time to make an impact. Debating Matters Beyond Bars has a tremendous effect on those taking part and allows prisoners to begin to look at education in a completely different light.

“To stand up in front of your peers, family members and potential employers and speak on a difficult subject when you’ve only had a couple of weeks to prepare and then be questioned by a panel of judges is not for the faint-hearted. This competition is an opportunity to learn skills that are difficult to acquire and the prisoners taking part in this programme deserve a great deal of credit.”

Debating trainer for the Institute of Ideas, Adam Rawcliffe, said:

“The first debating competition we ran at HM Prison Birmingham last year exceeded all of our expectations and shattered our own preconceptions of what prisoners could achieve. The whole team and the judges were blown away by how articulate and thoughtful the debates were and I’m confident that this year will be no exception.

“With the topics now agreed and the teams ready, I’m excited to get back to Birmingham. We are motoring ahead and our star judging panel, who will be confirmed in the coming weeks, are champing at the bit to listen to the prisoners’ arguments.

Contact G4S

For media enquiries about G4S or HM Prison Birmingham please contact

charlotte eynon

media executive

Contact Institute of Ideas 

For media enquiries about the Institute of Ideas and Debating Matters please contact: