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News

Lone worker protection for benefit investigators

Connexion2 : 06 July, 2007  (Application Story)
Identicom helps protect fraud investigators as they confront potentially abusive and hazardous situations in Wandsworth
Aware of the increasing threat to its Benefit Investigation and Rent Collection Officers from verbal and physical abuse, the Revenue Service at Wandsworth Borough Council has adopted Identicom as part of SoloProtect, the fully managed, lone worker protection service from Connexion2. As personnel frequently visit the homes of people claiming benefit or who are in arrears with their rent and occasionally confront potentially abusive situations, the Council wanted to ensure that its staff had the ability to assess risk and discreetly raise an alarm if threatened.

Previously, employees were reliant on a safety system, which relied on using a mobile phone. Conscious that if an employee found themselves in a dangerous situation and attempted to use a mobile phone to summon help, it could increase the worker's own risk and was unlikely to help capture credible audio evidence, Wandsworth Council decided to investigate alternative devices.

Identified by Deborah Baker, an Officer within Benefit Investigations following a presentation of the device by the NHS at a London Boroughs Fraud Investigation Group meeting in 2006, Wandsworth Council decided to conduct a trial using Identicom, as part of the SoloProtect package which also includes SIM and inclusive airtime, user training, 24 hour manned monitoring and unique TotalCare pre & post sale customer support.

Following a successful trial, Wandsworth Council has purchased Identicom units, which are pooled for use by lone workers. Feedback from staff has been very positive who have seen the introduction of Identicom as an improvement in their safety procedures.

"Identicom is supported by good monitoring arrangements and training for users through SoloProtect", says Terry Richings, Benefit Investigation Service Manager at Wandsworth Borough Council. "Operated in conjunction with robust lone worker procedures it is helping deter, prevent, detect, investigate incidents and provide evidence to help take action against offenders".

SoloProtect combines the market leading lone worker protection device with a 24/7 manned monitoring service accredited to the highest UK standard, BS5979 Cat II, through a partnership with Reliance Security, an established market leader in the provision of electronic security solutions. SoloProtect and the NHS Security Management Service provide end user training, which has been delivered to thousands of lone workers, both within the NHS and wider markets.

When an employee feels they are entering a hazardous situation, they press an amber alert button, which notifies SoloProtect's monitoring centre. In this way, the monitoring centre is able to note the wearer's location and raise the alarm if the amber alert is not cancelled within a predetermined period. If the red alert is then pressed the centres' support staff can discreetly listen in to what is happening and make an assessment as to the level of support required- involving the police if necessary. In the event of a verbal confrontation, the Centre can also record the conversation for future action.

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