Serco, the international services company that runs six prisons in the UK as well five in Australia and New Zealand, has successfully trialled and proven an innovative electronic system to manage prisoners’ property.
Loss of prisoners’ belongings, which are being held for them while they are in jail, has been a constant challenge in prisons around the world, particularly when transferring prisoners between different establishments, including to and from other prisons and the Courts.
Currently the care of prisoners’ property depends on manual property record cards; problems can occur due to the mixed quality and differing handwriting, illegible prisoner signatures and interpretation errors. These challenges can result in property being separated from its owner, or at worst, lost.
The new Electronic Prisoner Property Management System (EPPMS), developed in conjunction with Unilink, uses spare capacity in the prison’s Custodial Management System (CMS), a computer system used to manage many other aspects of prison life, including prisoner requests and activities.
Serco is the first organisation to adopt the new EPPMS. Once it was successfully trialled in the Therapeutic Centre in HMP Dovegate and the concept was proven, it was rolled out throughout the rest of the prison.
As a result, all articles of property belonging to prisoners have been logged on the system, providing a consolidated, manageable and transparent management system. The wider EPPMS rollout has already commenced and will be introduced into the remaining prisons run by Serco in the UK through the rest of this year.
Commenting on the innovation, Wyn Jones, Serco Custodial Operations Director, said: “Everyone who has worked in a prison knows the frustrations caused by the current manual processes for handling prisoner property. This innovative and easy to use Electronic Prisoner Property Management System helps prevent prisoners’ property being lost, reducing prisoner frustration and helping make for a calmer prison and our officers are already seeing the benefits across many aspects of prison life.”
The system has a modern, easy to use computer interface, with drop-down menus and standard categories of property, which is linked to other prison processes. It is paperless and provides records of prisoner property that are consistent and easy to interpret, together with live property records which are available throughout the prison.
From a prisoner’s perspective, the EPPMS provides for the first time ever the ability to check their own property records, using the self- serve computer kiosks on every wing, which they can securely access using biometric signatures.