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Unilink aligned with HMPPS Digital Strategy

HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) published HMPPS Digital, Data and Technology Strategy 2021/2022 on 15th June setting out the vision to transform services through digital technology.

The plans of modernising the estate include wider use of digital tools to support rehabilitation, long overdue digital adoption that puts the user at its core and helps to make prisons “fit for the internet era”. The strategy touches on the challenges the estate has faced due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which highlighted and accelerated the need for digital transformation, proven vital during the lockdown.

The strategy outlines HMPPS’s strategic priorities for 2021-2022 with its vision for 2024. Every prisoner is promised access to an in-cell device and the roll out will prioritise the youth custody institutions. Video conferencing will be adopted throughout the estate and in the probation service with the aim of supporting rehabilitation and remote supervision. Technology will be used to enable rehabilitation and more efficient running of the services.

Included below are the five objectives of HMPPS strategy and how those will be achieved. You can view the full list of 2021/2022 commitments via the strategy here.

  1. Provide staff with up to date IT equipment and applications, so they can work effectively, efficiently and collaboratively.
  2. Replace legacy systems with simpler, clearer, faster digital services, allowing staff to focus more time on the individual and their needs, rather than the administration of their case.
  3. Give people in care the digital tools & technology to support their rehabilitation.
  4. Make video conferencing accessible to everyone, building rehabilitative relationships for people in prison & on probation, their families & friends and staff supporting them.
  5. Capture, store and share high quality data across services leading to better and faster decision-making about people in care.

We can’t help but feel a great sense of optimism. The document shows clear and focused vision, ambitious but achievable goals and puts the users at the centre of the strategy – being the prison and probation staff or the offenders themselves.

In a foreword to the document, HMPPS chief executive Jo Farrar said: “After a year living through the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to modernise HMPPS estates and technology is more pressing than ever. We want services that are fit for the internet era, that meet the expectations of people that use them and work on them, and allow us to better adapt to the need for remote working, learning and relationships.

“The people we care for have had limited access to digital tools and technology to maintain relationships and support their rehabilitation. This year we will continue putting phones in cells in closed prisons, and start our journey towards prisoners in closed prisons having access to digital devices such as laptops and tablets.”

Unilink is a global provider of solutions for the criminal justice sector with a holistic offender-centric approach with 20+ years of experience. We pride ourselves in being committed to working with stakeholders including MoJ Digital & Technology and HMPPS to help deliver the digital transformation and we will continue doing so and assist achieving the vision.

Our self-service and in-cell technology has empowered hundreds of prisoners to take some responsibility of their lives, giving them the opportunity to order meals, check account balances, book visits and medical appointments, improving their digital skills and chances for rehabilitation. Over 2,000,000,000 transactions have been carried out to date.

When the Covid-19 crisis began and traditional face-to-face visits were suspended in prisons around the world, Scottish Prison Service sought out Unilink’s Video Sessions service to be installed in all Scottish prisons. We facilitate an average of 1,200 calls per week or over 4,000 video sessions conducted each month across the entire estate.

There are clear opportunities for digital to transform service delivery across the justice space and we look forward to working with its members and stakeholders to support HMPPS’s 2024 vision as they move from recovery into reform through the Prison and Probation Reform programmes.

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For enquiries and support on Email a Prisoner, Secure Payment Services, Video Sessions, neatPhone and Patient Mail, contact support@unilink-technology-services.com