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Prison Accommodation: Technology

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 54067, tabled on 3 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 7 May 2020 to Question 41404, on Prison Accommodation: Technology, what plans his Department has for the roll-out of in-cell digital technology across the prison estate in England and Wales.

Answered on

12 June 2020

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on prison regimes, which has included the temporary suspension of social visits, has necessitated the use of a range of different technology options across the justice system.

As previously noted, we have complemented the existing in-cell telephony programme with the deployment of secure mobile phones which can be used across those establishments without access to telephones within cells. Both these methods allow those who are self-isolating to maintain links outside of their cell. We have also begun to roll-out secure video calls across prisons to help prisoners maintain contact with their families.

In-cell technology, such as tablets and laptops, has the potential to support the rehabilitative work that already takes place in prison by providing in-cell access to education and other rehabilitation opportunities. Our strategy is informed by the 2007 Farmer Report which highlights the needs of providing contact with families and the link between lack of contact and negative impacts on mental health and potential violence.

We currently have in-cell digital technology in two adult male establishments and we are looking to roll-out in-cell technology for young people in Young Offender Institutes (YOIs) - HMP Feltham, HMP Werrington, HMP Wetherby and Cookham Wood YOI. We are continuing to deploy in-cell telephones across prisons in England and Wales.