The objective of the research was to evaluate digital technology in prisons to identify what the benefits are, as well as any disadvantages or unintended outcomes, of implementing the technology.
To do this, the specific research questions addressed whether digital technology:
- Increases access to and improves the communication of knowledge within prisons for both prisoners and staff.
- Improves prisoner confidence in using IT.
- Improves prisoner relationships with staff, other prisoners and those outside of the prison, and reduces prison violence.
- Increases staff job satisfaction and prisoner wellbeing.
- Reduces prison officer time spent completing key activities/tasks.
To answer the research questions, four methodologies were used in a sample of seven prisons with digital technology and four prisons without technology: (1) interviews and/or focus groups with staff and prisoners in the prisons with digital technology only; (2) a prisoner survey asking about use of telephones, account balance checking, ordering meals, ordering canteen and submitting applications in all prisons; (3) analysis of prison management data on prison violence and staff sickness rate over time for all prisons; and (4) a task time analysis to identify any time savings as a result of the implementation of technology in all prisons.
- 1.1 Approach
- 1.2 Key findings
- 2.1 Aims and Research
- 3.1 Methods
- 3.2 Limitations
- 3.3 Structure of the report
4. Functionality and access
- 4.1 Key Findings:
- 4.2 Access to telephones/calls
- 4.3 Telephone credit and cost of calls
- 4.4 Installation of telephones
- 4.5 Access to applications on kiosks and laptops
- 4.6 Resilience and functionality of kiosks and laptops
- 4.7 Functionality of P-NOMIS mobile devices
5. Uptake and use of technology
- 5.1 Key Findings:
- 5.2 Uptake of the technology
- 5.3 Misuse of the technology
6. Interactions and relationships
- 6.1 Key Findings
- 6.2 Relationships between prisoners and staff
- 6.3 Relationships between prisoners
- 6.4 Relationships between prisoners and family and friends
- 7.1 Key Findings:
- 7.2 Prisoner wellbeing
- 7.3 Staff wellbeing
8. Impact of staff workload
- 8.1 Key Findings
- 8.2 Time savings
- 8.3 Staff workload
Qualitative interviews and focus groups
Prison management data
Survey Data: Descriptive Statistics for Age, Time in Prison for Current Sentence and Time in ‘This Prison’ for Current Sentence by Prison
Time Series Analysis
Call Phone Data
Correlations between prison management metrics and BT data
Palmer, E., Hatcher, R. & Tonkin, M. (2020). Evaluation of digital technology in prisons. Ministry of Justice Analytical Series. Evaluation of digital technology in prisons (epea.org)