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Private Detention Facilities To Reduce Police Workload in the UK

G4S Secure Solutions (UK And Ireland) : 15 October, 2010  (Company News)
G4S is building custom built custody suites in the UK for accommodating detainees and reducing the requirements on the police service for prisoner welfare
G4S Police Support Services, part of G4S Care and Justice Services, is launching a revolutionary new custody suite which could save UK police forces up to £400 million a year in costs, help improve detainee welfare and return hundreds of police officers back to the beat.

The new service will see G4S providing participating police forces with outsourced custody suites, which will be overseen by police custody sergeants but staffed by G4S' highly trained teams of officers, reducing the numbers of police officers needed to process people who are arrested and detained.

The scheme will allow police officers to return to the beat faster by using G4S teams to complete paperwork, undertake finger printing and photography and manage welfare of prisoners in the cells, under the direction of the police custody sergeant.

The new custody suites will be scalable with a modular construction, enabling police forces to lease a set number of cells within the G4S facility and for additional cells to be added if required. The custody suites can be used to either replace police facilities, via a full outsourcing agreement, or to supplement existing detention facilities within the police force's estate. The suites will be owned and operated by G4S taking the significant ongoing costs of maintaining these buildings out of the public sector budget.

The company is hoping to sign its first contract at the end of November to develop custody suites to replace a force's existing facilities while G4S is also in discussions with a number of other police forces regarding outsourcing their custody estates.

In addition to saving police forces' money, G4S has designed the custody suites to boost detainee welfare and offer cutting edge security.

Unlike many existing public sector facilities, all corridors to detention cells are straight to ensure a constant line of sight from the custody desk. High definition continuous CCTV monitoring is enabled in each cell to ensure detainee safety, although toilet facilities are pixelated to comply with privacy and civil liberties concerns. All facilities will be regularly audited to ensure they comply with PACE and data protection legislation.

G4S is also developing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to monitor vulnerable detainees wellbeing while in custody to maximise their safety. If a detainee suffers a health issue while in their cell an alert will be sent to the charge desk, along with an audible alarm to notify officers and onsite medical personnel that an emergency has arisen.

John Shaw, Managing Director of Police Support Services, G4S Care and Justice Services, commented: "This revolutionary custody suite will deliver significant cost savings for the public sector and cut red tape for police officers, enabling them to return to the beat faster. Police forces can release aging custody estates, where these are no longer required, and instead use the G4S custody suites as a secure hub, with more flexible office spaces located within communities to provide working space for officers.

"We believe this new service has significant benefits for police forces and will also allow forces to update aging custody suites with new state of the art facilities at a more reasonable cost. With the custody suites owned, managed and maintained by a third party, police forces adopting this solution will no longer bear the cost of deprecating detention estates."

The G4S custody suites will have medical staff available 24/7 to further improve processing times and detainee welfare. Currently it can take up to an hour for a qualified medical physician to attend custody, which has obvious health and risk implications for detainees.

There will also be offices for duty solicitors on site and G4S is investing in developing electronic translation services. It is envisaged these will utilise voice-to-text and text-to-voice translation along with visual imagery to help people communicate their needs. Detention officers will be able to meaningfully interact with detained persons and it will also generate an electronic written record of each interaction, which can be subsequently audited. The custody facilities will also be equipped with technology to enable video link ups with the courts as it is anticipated cases conducted via this method will become more widespread in the future.

The average G4S custody suite will comprise 30 cells, though the innovative modular construction will allow this to be increased rapidly to a maximum of fifty containment units. Currently average national detention time in custody is 6.5 hours and G4S' facilities will deliver comparable or improved detention times.
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