1. ITV Report

Young prisoners in Bridgend prison use Skype to keep in touch with families

Credit: PA

Skype is being used in a Bridgend prison to allow young prisoners to keep in touch with their families.

Inspectors praised HMP Parc for supporting teenage inmates to have "quality contact" with relatives and friends.

A report on the young person's unit at the prison found that parents welcomed the contact and felt that their child was 'able to report issues to them quickly.'

There have been calls for technology to play a greater role behind bars to boost prison education programmes and the ability of inmates to stay in touch with their families.

Last year a Government-ordered review proposed that some prisoners should be able to use video-calling technology for "virtual visits".

This report shows the excellent work of the team here at Parc, who are dedicated to providing a safe and secure facility for the young people in our care. Skype forms a useful option for young people as part of our family and resettlement services strategies, although uptake has been low. It was first trialled at Parc in 2015 and after consultation with the Youth Justice Board it became a permanent feature of the regime in March 2016.

The addition of Skype can, for some young people, be a lifeline, allowing them to stay in touch with their families. This could be because they are in custody a considerable distance away from home or to keep in contact with a family member in hospital.

– Janet Wallsgrove, G4S director

HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which visited the unit in October, said it had shown "quite significant improvement" in key aspects, including safety, in the past year.

The watchdog found violence was falling but remained too high.

Overall, it was a "good report", Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said, describing staff as "well trained, committed and confident".The young person's unit at HMP Parc in Bridgend, South Wales, is managed by G4S and holds up to 60 boys aged between 15 to 18.