Custodial suicides in the Republic are fortunately rare but when they occur the most common cause is asphyxiation, so mitigating against ligature points in Garda station cells is at the heart of a major refurbishment programme designed to improve the safety and security of detainees and station officers alike.
Following representations made by senior officers of the Garda Siochᾱna, the Irish Office of Public Works (OPW) instigated a process to upgrade Garda Station cells, ultimately designing a new-style cell door equipped with the custodial lock striker plate and hatch manufactured in the UK by Pickersgill-Kaye.
Pickersgill-Kaye’s custodial inspection hatch and ligature resistant external 8-lever Kaye Class 1 Custodial Cell Lock were selected by the project’s authorised installers, including Oliver Boland Engineering Ltd in Enniscorthy, which produced the new cell doors using Pickersgill-Kaye’s products at selected Garda Stations all across the Republic.
Managing director of Oliver Boland Engineering Ltd, Oliver Boland, said: “We were invited to make a prototype cell door by the OPW. Part of the brief was that the lock and hatch on the door must be from approved suppliers such as Pickersgill-Kaye.
“We were invited to their factory in Leeds and shown how the hatch and lock operated on UK cell doors. We were guided and supported by Pickersgill-Kaye’s technical team on aspects of fitting and maintaining the products for our prototype cell door. Ultimately I think we created a cell door better than the original specification.”
The custodial lock, strike plate and hatch developed by the Leeds-based firm met the OPW and Garda Professional Standards Unit’s (PSU) strict criteria by addressing the architectural issues of the old style doors and mitigating potential ligature points.
The Kaye Class 1 heavy duty cell lock can fit most standard cell doors. It has been installed by door manufacturers at a growing number of custodial facilities for authorities in the UK, including the Metropolitan Police, Cleveland, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire Police and Two Counties.
OPW’s Higher Executive Officer and project co-ordinator, T J Hogan, who is working closely with Garda officials and the installers on delivering the programme, explained that the new cell door was a critical element in the drive for a safer environment for both vulnerable detainees and Garda Station personnel.
He said: “Pickersgill-Kaye’s custodial hatch is a significant improvement on the old style access, while the lock is a much better design thanks to its solid body and ligature resistant handle lever, which is tapered to prevent the tying of a knot around it – the knot would just slip off.”
The Kaye Class 1 Cell Lock meets the demanding requirements laid down in the respected SS317 standard: An international specification that accurately measures the lock’s resistance to wilful damage, physical security, ergonomics, cyclic testing and performance in a hostile environment.
Tested to 300,000 handle operations and door slams and 100,000 key operations, the lock is also resistant to a 12-hour saw attack, as well as a side load on the deadbolt of 25kN and to an end load on the deadbolt of 25kN. The SS317 standard also means it is now necessary to prove that attacking the handle does not prevent unlocking and use of the wrong key does not stop subsequent unlocking with the authorised key.