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Scottish prisons roll out Video Visits to everyone

‘Simply the face to face visual contact, was a very relaxed and comfortable environment for myself being at home, great idea to have this set up, hopefully this stays for future after lockdown.’

Thanks to a Scottish Prison Service (SPS) initiative, all prisoners in Scotland are keeping in touch with friends and family via Video Visits during the Covid-19 crisis.

During the lockdown, all social visits to prisons in the UK have been suspended to protect the residents in care and the community from the Covid-19 threat. However, SPS management and staff understand how important it is for prisoners’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as their rehabilitation, to stay connected with their family.

The first prisons to implement the Video Visits service were HMP YOI Cornton Vale, HMP Shotts and HMYOI Polmont.
The Scottish Prison Service commented that they are delighted as a result of the “150% successful” trial in HMP YOI Cornton Vale. Apparently, the dog that appeared on one call and was automatically identified as an unauthorised visitor was allowed to continue.
The pilot trial proven to be a success enabled SPS to roll out the service to all establishments in Scotland allowing every prisoner to have two “visits” per month.

SPS has partnered with Unilink to provide the innovative service – Video Visits, ensuring that prisoners can stay connected to their loved ones, free of charge during these challenging times and after the ease of the lockdown as a safer alternative to the face-to-face visits, especially for families unable to travel to sites.

The service is available for family visits and one to one meetings. Slots are available daily from 10am and 30-minute sessions are allowed. The Video Visits can be booked via www.emailaprisoner.com

Since the introduction of the service, a few weeks ago, over 4000 successful Video Visits were carried out.

Francis Toye, CEO of Unilink said ‘I am really proud that Unilink is helping in this way to reduce the tension caused by the lockdown. We are providing this service for free for a few months as our contribution to help in this crisis’.

‘Seeing our brother after months of not being able to visit him in person was really great. It’s really important for both our family and my brother to continue to have positive contact during this extremely difficult time when we have no idea when we may be able to see him in person. Thank you so much for making this possible’ A customer

‘The pleasure it gave to the prisoner, who was able to see his nephew (9) for the first time.’ A customer

Author: Alexandra Zlatinova, Marketing and PA to Managing Director