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Around 85,000 ex-offenders are released from English and Welsh prisons each year, and about 65% re-offend within 24 months, costing the UK taxpayer about £12bn a year.

Email-a-prisoner helps inmates stay in touch with their loved ones, proven to lower the chances of re-offending. The service was created by Derek Jones, ex-offender, founder of Unilink Technology Services, part of The Unilink Group. Unilinks secure email service allows messages to be sent to and from prisons rapidly, while ensuring that security requirements are maintained. This works with Unilinks prisoner self-service system that enables messages to be delivered securely to and from prisoners through biometric kiosks and in-cell devices.

Unilinks software makes prisons safer and more rehabilitative and this has been shown by an independent study into prisoner self-service by Prof. Cynthia McDougall of the University of York, which concluded that there was a significant effect of giving prisoners more responsibility through self-service. The software is used in every privately run prison in the UK and some public prisons.

Email-a-prisoner, which helps family and friends communicate easily with prisoners to maintain relationships that are key to reducing reoffending, has also been awarded ˜Best Citizen App and has also been recognised with the award of the overall 2015 Digital Leader.

On Thursday, 14th July, a special ceremony will be held at the Buckingham Palace where The Unilink Group will officially receive the Queens Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2016. The Groups Founder and CEO Francis Toye said: Unilink is delighted and honoured to receive this award. It is for a product and service that is proven to help with the rehabilitation of prisoners by bringing them closer to their friends and families and the support to help reduce reoffending. I want to thank our customers, the friends and family or prisoners, the over one hundred prisons we work with and I must not forget the staff, without whom this excellent service would not have been possible.

About Unilink: The Unilink Group comprises four operating companies and has also offices in Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands in addition to the UK. The company is privately owned and focussed upon developing innovative technology for the justice sector including Police and prisons. Unilink is a world leader in prisoner self-service and offender management software. This has been demonstrated through independent evidence from York University which shows that the software contributes significantly towards rehabilitation in the prisons in the UK where it is operating today. Unilink was established in 1994. The Unilink Group now employs 60 staff across four operating companies specialising in the Justice Sector. It is an award winning UK medium sized company with multiple awards for Innovation (2011) and in 2015 won two awards as the overall UK Digital Leader as well as the best Citizen Services application for “email a prisoner.

Unilink is currently active in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

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