self_service unilink

Empowering prisoners through technology

“The contrast between a prison with and without kiosks is like night and day.” (Prisoner S.M., HMP Northumberland, operated by Sodexo, April 2017)

Technology has the power to change lives, especially in a prison environment.
Unilink’s self-service system allows a prisoner to take responsibility for activities that would normally be undertaken by prison staff. The activities include checking the balance of their private cash, choosing and ordering meals, and booking social visits, gym, education sessions etc.

The impact of technology on the running of the prisons where it is implemented was measured by Prof. Cynthia McDougall, from York University, and her team at what is the first academic research on CMS – “The effect of digital technology on prisoner behaviour and reoffending: a natural stepped-wedge design”.

The study was based on a number of factors, including ease of use by the prisoners; their reaction of this added responsibility; how this influenced their interactions with prison staff; and the amount of staff time released for other (higher value) activities. Interestingly, one of the more unexpected and intriguing
findings was that the purchase of fruit from the canteen increased by over 50% following the introduction of the system.

The research also showed that 93% of prisoners agreed that the system is easy to use; there has been a 94% increase in completions of Offending Behaviour Programmes; an impressive 75% reduction in violent incidents and 12% reduction in staff sickness absence. Most importantly there is a proven 4% reduction in reoffending.

Unilink helps to make prisons work. The software helps prisons operate safer and more securely, replaces dated paper-based systems, and while modernising the running of the establishments supports inmates to serve their sentence with dignity and a growing sense of responsibility.

Unilink is working closely with UK’s HMPPS (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service) to roll out self-service technology in the publicly operated prison estate. The system is well-tested, having been developed over 16 years and has carried out over 1.5 billion prisoner self-service transactions to date. Currently it operates in over 70 establishments with over 60,000 inmates across UK, Europe, and Australia.


Unilink’s biometric self-service and offender management system is an award-winning product that works safely, securely and efficiently. 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.  For more details, please visit or drop an email at 



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