Prisons: Computers and Telephones

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 22nd March 2018.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he plans to roll-out the programme relating to the installation of telephones and basic computers in prison cells as a result of the conclusion of the pilot for that programme.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice introduced telephones and basic computers into prison cells in two prisons: HMP Wayland and HMP Berwyn. HMP Berwyn already featured both capabilities when it opened on 27th February 2017. Telephones were introduced into HMP Wayland in December 2016 and computers in January 2017.

The purpose is for prisoners to manage some of their own day-to-day tasks that would normally be managed by officers on paper, freeing up officers to focus their time on the important task of reforming offenders.

All in-cell phones are limited to a number of preapproved phone numbers with robust restrictions in place. Prisoners are not given access to the internet.

The pilot is still running in both prisons. We are monitoring and evaluating the benefits to assess the impact on prisoner safety and rehabilitation, and on officers’ ability to do their jobs more effectively.

Ministers will want to see evidence that putting telephones and basic computers in prison cells has tangible benefits before making any decisions on rolling out further.

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