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March 9, 2022

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The 2022 State of Physical Access Control Report

Smart Security

Britain’s first ‘smart’ prison launched to cut crime and protect public

A £253million prison, designed to incorporate smart technology, has opened in Northamptonshire. It is the first prison in Britain to be designed with education, training and jobs for prisoners on release as its main purpose.

Prisoners at HMP Five Wells, Northamptonshire, will spend their time behind bars learning new skills and getting trained in vital industries. With 24 workshops and a large number of classrooms, prisoners will take part in formal learning, courses, qualification and on-the-job training including plumbing and engineering.

Designed throughout with cutting-edge technology, HMP Five Wells is also Britain’s first ‘smart’ prison – utilising the latest designs and innovations to protect the public and rehabilitate offenders.

Smart design

Offenders will be housed in X-shaped blocks, with wider, shorter corridors and fewer prisoners on each wing so frontline staff can see all cells and offenders at one time.

Cells will have ultra-secure, bar-less windows to put an end to drones bringing in illegal drugs, phones and weapons into jails.

Smart technology

Prisoners will have in-cell tablets to access education from inside their cell, utilising stringent and robust security to ensure they are not abused.

Visitors pass through an x-ray scanner as well as ‘pat-down’ searches to prevent contraband items being passed on to residents.

The Deputy Minister, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “HMP Five Wells is a flagship example of the Government’s plan t create secure and modern prisons that cut crime and protect the public.

“This smart prison is designed to tackle the key obstacles to cutting reoffending and making our streets safer.”

Currently, 137 hand-picked inmates have been moved to the facility. At full capacity, the prison will house 16,80 male category C offenders, and employ up to 700 people.

In 2019, construction and infrastructure services company Kier, was contracted by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for the new build, with a core feature of the programme being to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are deigned, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture Assembly (DfMA) or ‘platform’ approach.

Kier states that the design developed for the facility supports the MoJ’s commitment to building a safe and secure environment that is conducive to rehabilitation.

The new jail is the first of six new prisons to be completed, with construction at Glen Parva, Leicestershire, well underway.

In October 2021, IFEC Global reported on how security technology can support 21st-century prison systems.

The article highlights how prisoners at HMP Berwyn are now being given access to their medications without having to see a doctor or nurse, with biometrics being used to remove the need for prisoners to queue at hatchets.

The use of lockers was said to be less disruptive, faster and allowed flexibility around the prison regime.

The next innovative prison will be built next to HMP Full Sutton, East Yorkshire, and locations are being identified for a further three across the country.

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