Unilink: A digital leap from paper to empowerment – one prisoner’s view
“When I moved to HMP Northumberland I was so happy to see a kiosk. In my previous prisons, friends spoke of how the kiosks made everything so much easier and reduced frustration and anger.
And they weren’t wrong; I could see people taking charge of their lives, of having real-time information in front of them showing them their money, their work allocations, their visits and so forth.
It was like going from the information blackout that is every other prison, to a place where you felt like you mattered. The contrast between a prison with and without kiosks is like night and day.
It’s hard to have a sense of self–worth when you have no idea of what’s happening when you have no ability to try and manage anything and there are bits of paper continuously lost and stuck in the system.
After a while, it can be dehumanising fighting such a huge uncaring paper swallowing machine that rarely if randomly spits out a result that is probably different from that requested. So, imagine a kiosk where right there all the vital information is laid out in front of you – it creates a sense of liberation and the empowerment that restores a man’s pride and gives him hope.
Aside from reducing prisoner’s frustration and therefore self–harm and violence, the kiosks also benefit the prison in that there is mundane admin work to be performed, so front-line prison officers spend less time listening to prisoners than ringing admin offices to try and resolve prisoners’ issues.
So, deploying a kiosk system saves a prison governor’s money and allows prison staff to concentrate their valuable time on rehabilitation and not administration.”
– Prisoner SM, HMP Northumberland,
operated by Sodexo on behalf of the UK Ministry of Justice
Unilink’s biometric self–service system is an award-winning product that works safely, securely and efficiently. It allows prisoners to have some control over
organising the things that matter to them and has been shown by an independent York University study to reduce recidivism and enable the more efficient and safer running of prisons. In 2016, Unilink won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and in 2015 was awarded “Best Citizen App” and UK Digital Leader overall winner.