UK jails mulling biometrics plan
30 April 2018 16:42 GMT

Senior UK prison officials say biometrics may play a greater role in tracking for "digital prisons".

In an interview with UK Authority this week, Gary Monaghan, director of business change for HM Prison and Probation Service, said the technology was currently being tested.

The concept is going into practice, using a system provided by Unilink that includes biometrics to Home Office standards and the ability to integrate with the internal back office and external systems.

“As part of the concept we decided we would trial it in a number of pilot sites and roll out prisoner self-service more widely if it was successful and we had the confidence of ministers", he told the website.

The Unilink 'self-service' product takes many routine but vital prison processes: visits booking, applications, meals, notices, surveys, activity scheduling, prisoner communications, prisoner finances and uses technology to take them from paper driven with multiple prison officer interventions to IT driven with few and often no requirements for prison officer interaction

“We also started to think about the wider architecture and connectivity. One of the things about the Digital Prisons concept is that effectively we don’t have networks prisoners can access, so we’re having to start at a base level.”

The biometrics system would feed into plans for an integrated scheduling tool to be shared with the Courts Service. This will integrate the biometrics of the Unilink system with those held by the police.

“We’re trying to get the building blocks in place and we have some work to be able to have a national biometric register. It’s about the partners getting themselves ready as well.”

Unilink’s self-service product is deployed in all seventeen privately operated prisons and three public prisons in the UK plus four sites in Australia/New Zealand. 

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