HMP & YOI Ashfield
HMP & YOI Ashfield now has a calm and more settled population after implementing an innovative telephone system from Unify.
The holistic solution ensures the young people can maintain contact with family and friends whilst providing staff with maximum levels of security and control.
For young people serving a custodial sentence, access to a telephone is extremely important. It allows them to maintain regular contact with family, carers and loved ones and this in turn improves their general well-being.
The traditional set up of six phones for a unit of 60 young people presented a range of challenges for Ashfield. The phones could only be used during association time - two hours per evening – which meant many found it difficult to maintain contact with their community. The lack of contact could result in problems with self harming, bullying and general unrest and staff needed to find a convenient way to remove this issue.
Working in partnership with Unify, Ashfield realised the need for a bespoke solution to better manage communications, that would have a positive impact on re-offending rates and improve the general well-being of the young people in their care.
Unify developed an innovative telephone solution that delivers the highest levels of security and control for staff at Ashfield.
Brian Anderson, director at HMP & YOI Ashfield explains; “Lack of contact with family and friends can put a young offender in a low mood and they can respond to that in a number of quite extreme ways - some will withdraw, possibly self harm, others will be angry and aggressive.”
Telephones were installed in the young persons’ room where individuals can communicate regularly and in private. Trials and ongoing developments revealed a short wired telephone solution to be the safest and most effective type of phone to install. The PIN system gives staff the flexibility to control and restrict usage for each individual. This includes a pre-authorised number list, calling at certain times of a day, as well as security features including call monitoring and lockdown for immediate disablement.
“The added bonus of having phones in the rooms is that the young people also have direct access to support like the Samaritans and Childline directly at any time.”
The system has brought a number of immediate benefits, the most important being a more settled population.
Conflict that might occur at association time has been eradicated and bullying has been noticeably reduced. Contact with family and friends is higher, making the potential for reoffending less likely.
The telephone system has enabled staff to better manage communications and record and monitor calls, maximising security and protecting the young people in their care.
An additional benefit has been the surplus money generated from the telephone scheme that goes into a Prisoners Amenities Fund. This helps contribute towards recreational equipment for use in the centre.
Brian Anderson, director at HMP & YOI Ashfield
“Unify are our partners for all sorts of solutions and they are an extremely professional organisation. You can go to them with an idea or a concept and they will bring it to life.
"They will work with you to come up with the right fit for your organisation. The end result is that they have provided us with a holistic solution for our telephone system.
“They’re not a one size fits all team and have come up with a bespoke service and a fresh solution.
"They have been great to work with and helped us considerably whilst I’ve been based at Ashfield.”