14 Nov 2022
by Andrew Wood, Adam Bolas

A simple solution to solve the digital disconnect in prisons and aid rehabilitation

A guest blog submitted by Andrew Wood, Director of Consulting at CGI UK and Adam Bolas, Founder & CEO of Digital Woof LTD for #DigitalJusticeWeek2022

Hi, I’m Andrew Wood from CGI. It’s great to be blogging on the first day of Digital Justice Week and look at how digital technology can improve the current functioning of the Criminal Justice System.

For 20 years CGI have been helping the justice system update and transform the way justice is administered across the nation. We have helped them update to employ modern ways of working to keep pace with a rapidly changing world, and constantly improve their services by taking advantage of CGI’s systems.

Lack of technology

Tackling reoffending is one of the biggest issues for the CJS today. I see the digital disconnect in prisons being one of the factors which feeds into the challenge of preventing convicted criminals released into society from ending up back in jail.

While good work is taking place, it is widely recognised that much more still needs to be done. To that end, CGI commissioned a report from Crest Advisory to examine the CJS in detail. Entitled Joining Up Justice with Real World Solutions, it found a system struggling to be delivered – for victims, witnesses, and also for offenders in terms of proper rehabilitation.

A key part of the report focuses on why rehabilitation is not working, and what solutions can be adopted. It found a simple answer; the digital revolution has largely passed prisons by and there is a lack of digital technology inside prisons. As education and the ability to self-serve is a key part of rehabilitation, this lack of cohesive digital access is a missed opportunity at a time when digital skills are vital in many of today’s careers. Not only that, many inmates are finally released without a job, a permanent domicile, and access to benefits – all which can be secured digitally before they are finally freed.

Simple and cost-effective

CGI firmly believes there is a simple, cost-effective fix to this, through the use of automation, where prisoners can gain internet access for their rehabilitation, retaining connection to family and support groups more effectively but without introducing risk of access to unsuitable materials, criminal activity or other areas that could be abused.

One example comes from a collaboration we are developing with a firm called Shaping, founded by Adam Bolas. I’d like to hand over to Adam, so he can fully explain the solution he has come up with.

AI risk management

My name is Adam, I founded FiDO (Family independent Devices Online) as a platform to make the internet safer for children and vulnerable people online. The idea for an initial concept came to me when I was in a club in my hometown of St Austell, Cornwall, I noticed a lot of the girls looked underage, but noting physical safeguards like driving licenses and passports already existed, I decided to think about an internet-based concept.

Today, FiDO travels with children on their internet journeys’. When a child tries to access a new platform, FiDO goes in first to sniff out any danger using AI sentiment analysis. If the virtual-dog finds anything, he goes back to the parent or carer with any relevant education in bite-sized format to enable those responsible to make an informed decision on whether or not to block the website or app. All of this is done without violating the child’s privacy, enabling them to learn safely online without the risk of being put at risk if the parent or carer disagrees with what they’re looking at online.

AI-based solutions

CGI and FiDO are developing a collaboration where this can be adapted for use in prisons. FiDO becomes REX, ‘Registered EXemptions’ AI-based application, which monitors online use by inmates. Prisoners can be given devices for use to access platforms that can aid their rehabilitation – for instance education sites such as the Open University, applying online for housing or starting their benefits process well prior to release. All throughout the process, REX is in the background semantically analysing content, raising interventions when browsing strays out of the norm. As REX is adaptive, behaviours can be dynamically personalised for individual users, applied across groups fitting profiles, or across the whole user group.

CGI and FiDO are looking into the potential of piloting this scheme in the future. If you are interested in supporting the trial please reach out to us. It is a simple solution to what is a simple problem with hugely complex ramifications. If we look to this future, then the digital disconnect in prisons can being to be overcome. 


Andrew Wood

Andrew Wood

Director of Consulting, CGI UK

Adam Bolas

Adam Bolas

Founder & CEO, Digital Woof LTD