Prison tech company Coracle wins King’s Award

A company which provides prisoners with laptops they can use in their cells has won a King’s Award for Enterprise.

Coracle is one of only nine companies to win the prestigious prize in the Promoting Opportunity category.

Coracle, founded by James Tweed in 2006 and based in Cambridge's Chesterton Mill, started out as an e-learning company for the shipping industry. But, in 2017, Tweed and his team revamped the company’s technology to provide prisoners with access to education via offline laptops. 

Coracle’s service enables prisoners to access content from education providers such as The Open University, the Prison Education Trust and the Shannon Trust without accessing the internet, which prisoners are barred from doing.

Coracle is now available in 86 prisons in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is one of the very few companies permitted by the Ministry of Justice to provide inmates with access to IT.

“Over the past six years, we’ve spent time in institutions up and down the country, working with offenders and staff to increase access to digital education in prisons," said Tweed. 

"There have been many challenging days for myself and my team. So to have our hard work and efforts recognised by the King is an enormous honour and something which the team is incredibly proud to have achieved.”

Tweed says he hopes the King’s Award will help propel the business into new markets and bring about a revolution in prison education and digital literacy.  

“All across the world there are groups of people who lack education and digital skills and, as a result, are becoming excluded from society. Prisoners are one of these groups and, if we want to reduce crime and reoffending, then education is the way to do it.

"I hope Coracle winning a King’s Award will push this issue up the agenda, meaning more prisoners get educated and find a way toward a better life.”

Tweed says he is relishing the prospect of meeting His Majesty King Charles III when he and other King’s Award winners visit Buckingham Palace later this year.  

“They say prisoners serve at His Majesty’s pleasure. But I feel sure our new King will take rather more pleasure in hearing how we are trying to help people find a new way for inmates to approach life.”