Serco introduces proximity sensor devices at six UK Prisons

Published: 17 Feb 2021

Serco, the specialist prison operator that runs six prisons in the UK for the Ministry of Justice and Scottish Prison Service, as well five in Australia and New Zealand, is introducing a personal proximity sensor at the prisons it manages in the UK.  The rollout follows a successful trial at HMP Lowdham Grange, which is believed to have been the first of its kind in a UK prison.

The Pathfindr sensor, a small device worn by Prison Custody Officers when on duty on the prison houseblocks as well as by office-based support teams, provides a loud audible warning when another person comes closer than two metres.

Maintaining social distance in prisons is challenging, given the design and layout of the buildings, which include narrow walkways outside cells, together with the number of people resident and working in a prison.

The trial at HMP Lowdham Grange used 50 sensors and Officers involved found the devices easy to use and reliable.  Most importantly they made them more aware of social distancing and as a result, they helped maximise adherence to social distancing wherever operationally possible, reducing the number of occasions when the two metre social distancing rules were broken.

Commenting on the use of the Pathfindr sensor, Wyn Jones, Serco Custodial Operation Director, said: “Serco is very pleased at the success of this trial and we believe this device will help us to keep everyone safe, limit the spread of Covid amongst our staff and prisoners and reduce the number of staff absences due to track and trace relating to social distancing.”

 “Our top priority is to keep everyone in prison safe and well and everybody understands that maintaining social distancing in prisons essential in order to limit the spread of Covid.” 

With the successful completion of the trial, Serco has now introduced the sensors into each of the other prisons it runs in the UK.