Prison Visit Booking Set To Be Next Exemplar

Jul 11, 2014

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has claimed that progress on one the 25 “exemplar” services – online prison visit bookings – is going well.

As part of its overall IT strategy, the coalition government is transforming 25 of its largest transactional services to be digital by default.

Currently, the transformation is still largely in progress, although Lasting Power of Attorney and Individual Electoral Registration have recently gone live.

Now, it appears booking prison visits is set to join them, as the Ministry of Justice has been testing early versions of it with HMP Rochester.

“The new digital service speeds things up. It removes the need for Visiting Orders and puts a calendar on a web page where visitors can pick three possible time slots that suit them,” claims Mike Bracken, Cabinet Office executive director of digital in a new blog post.

“It’s quick and easy and takes just a few clicks. Or taps, because it works fine on most smartphones too,” he added.

According to Bracken, the new digital booking system is quicker and easier for users because they no longer need to spend large amounts of time on the phone trying to get through to prison staff – instead, they pick a date and move on.

He adds that it’s also improved because the prison staff themselves no longer need to spend hours taking calls and can take visiting requests at a time to suit them and deal with prisoners in the interim.

“The digital service removes one of the biggest bottlenecks and makes things easier for everyone involves,” claims Bracken – and prison staff agree.

Prison Staff Welcome Changes

“I think it’s 10 times better than the old system. We don’t have to spend hours constantly on the phone. We can pick up new emails from anywhere in the prison, we don’t have to be tied to a desk,” one employee is quoted as claiming.

“Before, the phone used to ring non-stop while the line was open. We were always printing off Visiting Orders, that took loads of time,” another added.

Bracken claims that there is still work to be done and the beta version is the “first step” towards that.




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