Prisons service expects to offer virtual visits for inmates ‘imminently’

Written by Sam Trendall on 2 April 2020 in News

Government is currently looking at possible options to facilitate remote contact

Credit: Paul Faith/PA

In 2017, Conservative peer Lord Farmer conducted a government-commissioned review titled The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners' Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime.

One of his recommendations was the implementation of video visits for the family members of prisoners for whom face-to-face visits are difficult or impossible.

Shortly before the implementation of social distancing measures – which have seen all prison visits suspended – Farmer submitted a written parliamentary question asking what consideration had been given to his recommendation.

Related content

Lord Keen of Elie, the Ministry of Justice’s spokesperson in the House of Lords, said that, in light of the coronavirus crisis, HM Prisons and Probation service is “urgently exploring options for the safe and secure use of video solutions in a range of establishments to facilitate family video calling”. 

He added: “We expect that this approach will be available imminently to support the current situation, but beyond this, will consider how best to utilise the video-calling services to enable prisoners to maintain contact where they have historically not received regular visits.”

In the meantime, government has also rolled out 900 mobile phones with locked SIM cards. These are being issued to “risk-assessed prisoners to speak to a small number of pre-authorised contacts”.

“Strict measures will ensure the phones are not misused with calls being time-limited and monitored closely. Additionally, handsets will include tamper-proof tape to prevent non-secure SIM cards being used,” Keen said.  “As well as helping prisoners connect with their families, the phones will give prisoners access to support services such as the Samaritans, therefore reducing their risk of self-harm at a uniquely difficult time.”

The 900 handsets have been given to a total of 55 institutions across England and Wales. A further 50 have in-cell telephony. This represents the majority of the overall tally of 117 prisons.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page




Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Related Sponsored Articles

Email security incidents happen every 12 hours – it’s time to close the gap in Microsoft 365
21 January 2021

The remote-first world has seen email being relied on more than ever as a core communication mechanism - but with 93% of IT leaders acknowledging a risk to sensitive data, what steps should be...

Are You Ready for the Future of Cyber Security?
15 January 2021

2020 was a cyber security wake up call for many organisations. Attempting to provide secure remote access and device flexibility quickly exposed the flaws in legacy systems and processes. As we...

Remote working opened the doors to cyberattack and data breach risks – we can close them
8 December 2020

In 2020 public sector organisations have been tested to a degree never experienced before. According to CrowdStrike, increasing cybersecurity attacks are an additional complication they must...