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Prison Service digital team works on tool to calculate release dates

09/05/22

Mark Say Managing Editor

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Entrance to HM Prison Holme House
Image source: GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

The digital team at HM Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS) is working on a tool to help calculate release dates for prisoners.

It will replace the use of the National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) for the purpose, as part of the HMPPS strategy to replace legacy systems with simpler and faster digital services.

Writing in Ministry of Justice blogpost, Emily Docherty, hub manager in the offender management unit at HMP Holme House, said that calculating release dates is a sensitive and painstaking process and that the NOMIS system is not always doing it correctly. There are also issues around the pressure it places on staff, explaining the release dates to others and other establishments making errors.

This has led to the project to develop a digital tool, which began in May of last year and has now delivered a prototype that initially brought a good response from users.

It has now proceeded to a private beta phase with six prisons using it on a pilot basis. Frazer Rhodes, service owner in HMPPS Digital, said it now plans to work on the upstream inputs of the calculator, such as sentence and offence information, and add more complex sentence types.

Apprehension

Docherty said there is some apprehension about solely relying on a computer system for the process and at the moment working without a manual check “feels like something out of reach”, and that there is a need for those involved to work on building up trust.

Rhodes commented: “The vision established is a service that enables the easy and accurate calculation and recalculation of sentences which has the flexibility to quickly incorporate changes in circumstances, policy or any other factors that affect sentence length, meeting with GDS standards.” 

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