The joint head of Criminal and Prison Law at one of the region’s largest independent law firms says the introduction of secure video calls to help maintain vital family ties during the coronavirus crisis will also aid rehabilitation and help to keep offenders on the straight and narrow following release.
Emma Simoes, a partner with North Wales and Shropshire based GHP Legal, was speaking after last week’s announcement that the Ministry of Justice had completed a six-month programme to install video call technology in all public and private prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) across England and Wales, that to date has facilitated over 90,000 video calls and connected families in more than 100 countries.
“It is a known fact that offenders with close family ties are less likely to reoffend”, says Emma, “so encouraging as much contact as possible has always been an essential part of the rehabilitation process. Now that prison visiting has been widely curtailed to curb the spread of coronavirus, it is even more important.
“As someone who represents prisoners and enforces their legal rights, I know how daunting and worrying imprisonment can be, not just for those who have been sentenced but for their friends and family too. I have been hugely concerned about the effects that COVID-enforced social deprivation could have on the mental health of detainees in prisons and young offender institutions, so it is a relief to know that the video links are having a major impact there too.”