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Working title of PhD: Bridging the gap between prison technology and Residential Officers’ mental health – the impact of the digital divide, human-computer interaction, and digital illiteracy on prison officers’ wellbeing.

Full time or Part-time: Part-time

Year Commenced: 2022

PhD Supervisors: Gemma Webster, Christine Haddow and Kirstin Anderson

Funded: Self-funded

Synopsis of PhD: 

Technology and new digital solutions are implemented within prison environments. Digital tools are used not only to increase security but also to support the prisoner’s life behind the bars. However, access to technology varies significantly across Scottish establishments. These advancements also reshape the role of a residential prison officer, who now needs to be digitally literate to support people in their care and use ICT systems as part of their job. Candidates for officers come from different backgrounds, and, with digital literacy not being a required characteristic in the job specification, they might feel uncomfortable using technology. In addition to the new challenges brought by progressing digitisation, residential officers still need to provide the necessary care to inmates, often dealing with complex situations. The combination of both aspects of the role of a residential prison officer puts significant pressure on individuals.

My PhD research project focuses on understanding the current state of technology in Scottish public prisons and finding a way to bridge the inequality gap in justice to increase the wellbeing of residential prison officers. Using mixed methods, it also looks at how technology is perceived by prison staff at different levels and how the ecosystem can be improved to increase officer well being, and if this may positively impact the care provided to inmates.

Keywords: prison technology, prison officer wellbeing, new media



Edinburgh Napier University

Research Themes

New Media, Surveillance and Technology

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