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National Custody Seminar 2013 – Vital for Gold Sponsor ISM’s ‘grass roots research’

The third National Custody Seminar, organised by The Police Federation of England and Wales, took place on the 11th & 12th September 2013 at the Best Western Moat House Hotel, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

The 2013 event proved to be “an insightful and incredibly useful event for engaging in grass roots research with custody sergeants and inspectors,” according to Gold Sponsor, ISM, pioneers of the award-winning Genesys security control room management system

Stephen Smith, Sales and Marketing Director said “We endorsed the stated core objective of this event which was to ensure that custody suites across the UK are run professionally. We also looked upon our presence at this event as a golden opportunity to talk to custody sergeants to build an even deeper understanding of their needs and the challenges they face in running a custody suite. Go back several years and a large custody suite comprised of 10 cells. Today that figure has increased to 40, 50, even 60 cells. This has put a huge pressure on custody sergeants to ensure that every single detainee remains safe under their watch for every single minute they are in a cell despite facing an ongoing requirement to cut back on manpower.” Smith continued: “What came out loud and clear from this event was that custody sergeants and their team really care about the welfare of their detainees but, with a reduction in manpower coupled with an increase in red tape and legislation, there are inevitable weaknesses in the current systems. For example, the time that a detainee is inspected in their cell is not automatically fed back into the custody record.

Smith believes custody suites are slow to install new systems not because they doubt them but because they perceive the cost of implementation to be outside of their budget – a perception he is keen to dispel. “We have developed this functionality in the prison market and the good news for custody suites is that it can be retrofitted into our existing Genesys Systems with an ROI of just six months. There are two main effects, for example within a 40 cell custody suite by logging at the cell door itself could save approximately 1.5 minutes per cell, with an average time of one visit per hour equates to a member of staff extra. When you consider the time it takes for a detainee to be admitted to a cell, we believe that our system will reduce this by 10 minutes on average per person. Multiply this by the number of detainees admitted into police cells on any given day and you can see that with our system a bobby can be back on the beat swiftly. And because the time that an inspector visits a cell is automatically recorded and fed back to the custody record immediately you’re looking at an accuracy rate of 100% which in this day and age is crucial.” More often than not, it’s recorded on a piece of paper and a person punches it into the system when the inspection is over which may be some time later. Let’s say that a detainee self harms or even dies in custody, the time presented by the visiting inspector will be analysed against the CCTV recording of the cell check. A discrepancy of just one minute can lead to a claim and with the average cost of a death in custody being £1 million, not to mention the ensuing upheaval of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the event.”

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