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Technology and the Prison System

As HMPPS publishes its Digital, Data and Technology Strategy for 2021-2022, we take a look at their long-term vision to bring services into the internet era.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has a vital role in overseeing correctional services in the UK. The organisation sits under the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) responsibility, but usually has its own ICT objectives and challenges to tackle. In June 2021, HMPPS published its Digital, Data and Technology Strategy for 2021-2022, including a long-term vision on what it expects to be implementing up to 2024. Jo Farrar, the Second Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Chief Executive of HMPPS, in outlining the strategy stated that the Prison and Probation Service want services that are fit for the internet era, that meet the expectations of people that use them and work on them, and allow the service to better adapt to the need for remote working, learning and relationships.

HMPPS Digital, Data and Technology Strategy 2021/2022

The strategy outlines HMPPS’s priorities for 2021-2022 with its vision for 2024.

Outlined below are the 5 strategic objectives and some of the key underpinning commitments to achieve them:

  1. Provide staff with up-to-date IT equipment and applications, so they can work effectively, efficiently and collaboratively
    • Start to deliver the Prison Technology Transformation Programme (PTTP).
    • Start to roll out new laptops, desktops and other technology for staff in prisons.
    • Start to safely move onto Cloud based platforms.
    • Start to standardise IT applications such as ensuring everyone has Microsoft Teams to make work more efficient and collaborative for all staff.
    • Improve the IT service desk, ensuring staff get the technical support they need to use new IT services.
  1. 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.
    • Develop a long-term strategy for replacing existing systems by 2024
    • Continue to grow and improve live services such as the digital Prisoner Escort Service and manage a Prison Offender Manager (POM) case services.
    • Scope the digital provision for facilities management.
    • Develop a plan for and start delivering digital education in prisons.
    • Implement key functionality and infrastructure that staff need for probation services.
  1. Give people in our care the digital tools & technology to support their rehabilitation.
    • Start journey to ensure every prisoner in closed prisons has access to a laptop or tablet by implementing in-cell technology in 9 prisons.
    • Roll out in-cell technology in the whole Youth Custody Estate to improve conditions for young people.
    • Scope how we give people on probation a role in their sentence using digital & technology.
  1. Make video conferencing accessible to everyone, building rehabilitative relationships for people in prison & on probation, their families & friends and staff supporting them.
    • Develop an integrated video conferencing strategy across HMPPS including wider MoJ.
  1. Capture, store and share high quality data across our services leading to better and faster decision-making about people in our care.
    • Develop a digital product that supports Governors by providing data insights to manage prisons.
    • Embed data insights into digital services to enable staff to make better and faster decisions.
    • Ensure everyone’s data is safe through embedding the right governance and data protection training.

Prison Technology Transformation Programme (PTTP)

The PTTP has been widely discussed by Parliament during 2020 and has the aim to upgrade end-user technology for correctional and back-office staff in the division, focusing on connectivity, interoperability, and cost-effectiveness.

One of the priorities of PTTP is to replace legacy laptops, desktops and mobile devices for all staff working for the organisation. On the software side, the programme aims to upgrade operating systems for easier data sharing amongst prison employees in the UK.

Furthermore, plans to roll out email and office applications for HMPPS are also in place. This will facilitate online integration between prisons, probation services and other areas of the MoJ.

With the transformation programme, MoJ expects to achieve certain outcomes on prison connectivity and interoperability within the organisation. These include risk mitigation for technology outages in prisons and at their HQ, increased staff productivity through better performing applications, cost reduction and the centralisation of digital services.

Progress so far

A prison and probation digital transformation in the UK has been long-awaited, and the thorough plan put together by HMPPS is a really positive head start.

In recent months, the MoJ has completed the delivery of the technology and digital services required for the handover of probation services back to public control. This included roll out of over 8000 devices to new colleagues at home, migration of data and applications, and building a new interventions service to ensure they can support people in getting out of the cycle of crime. They have also deployed the first MoJ Official laptops to prison users and deployed in-cell devices and digital services to the first set of users in HMP Cookham Wood. These devices and services enable offenders to manage their own administration and access educational content helping to improve wellbeing and reduce the administrative burden on prison officers.

Perhaps most importantly, the MoJ has set out performance measures and a Delivery Board to track progress against the PTTP.

The high cost of this digital transformation could mean that some of the desired changes will have to be prioritised, and even if pilots are rolled out by 2022, full national rollouts of some systems may still take some time to come to fruition. This is, however, an exciting time in the sector and an opportunity for suppliers such as NEC Software Solutions to play our part in supporting this transformation.

Introducing new tech in prisons to help strengthen rehabilitation

We’re supporting Sodexo to assure the quality of accredited programmes across three prisons. Using Media Manager, their Treatment Managers can now record, playback and store group sessions using one single, secure system.

Find out more about how we’re helping the introduction of new tech into prisons here.