Accessibility Links
Quick Send CV
Cookies on our website
By continuing to use this website we will assume you are happy to receive cookies as outlined in our cookie policy
Accept Policy

Tagged In:  HM Prison Service, HMP, Prison

An innovative voicemail project is helping prisoners and their families stay in touch.


Prison Voicemail - now available in 100 of the 121 prisons in England and Wales - embraces simple technology to improve prisoner-family communication. 

First piloted in 2015 at Lincoln Prison, an evaluation of the project by researchers at the University of Lincoln followed the wider roll-out and found it received positive feedback from prisoners and their families.

Messages exchanged via voicemail link 

Prison Voicemail enables inmates and family members or friends to exchange voicemails to and from prison. Participants are assigned a unique landline number which is attached to a specific mobile number and that allows the prisoner to listen to voicemails and reply if they wish.

Family and friends can buy packages of minutes to leave voicemails for people in prison on a pay-as-you-go, or monthly subscription basis. The cost to the person in prison is the same as calling a UK landline.

Messages can be left and retrieved at any time and are immediately available on the receiving end. Relatives and friends can access messages from mobiles and landlines in the UK and abroad.

Strengthening family ties

The service was developed by Phonehub IO Ltd, working with HMPPS to ensure it complied with Prison Service Orders relating to security and public protection.

From a technical perspective, the service requires no additional phone lines within prisons and administration is handled by Prison Voicemail staff. A mobile app version of the service was also launched this year.

The review of the voicemail facility coincides with Lord Farmer’s report on the importance of strengthening family ties for prisoners, which advocated technology as critical in improving family-prisoner links. It suggested video calling technologies such as Skype should also be made available to prison inmates in certain circumstances to keep in touch with families.

Positive feedback from prisoners and families

In the study to assess the value of the Prison Voicemail service, Lauren Mumby and Professor Todd Hogue from the University of Lincoln anonymously surveyed 81 prisoners and 77 family members and interviewed a further 18 family members.

Findings showed that the availability of the Prison Voicemail system was seen as having a positive effect on health and wellbeing, relationships and social ties, and the solving of practical problems.

Prisoners also reported that it helped them to manage their behaviour in prison and that it might even help them reduce offending on release.

The initiative dovetails with the Farmer Review findings, which emphasised the importance of improving and maintaining contract between prisoners and their families.

As a regulated form of telephone contact, Prison Voicemail also comes amid an ongoing campaign to rid the prison network of illegal mobile phones, with some 9,000 illegal mobile phones found in prisons last year.

Email a friend

Meet the Events Manager

Add new comment