At Incentive QAS we have had a specialist service for cleaning police holding cells for many years and work closely with forces in the UK. Police holding cells and secure prison cells are often scenes of various types of bio-hazardous incidents that pose a high risk of infection for anyone who is in contact with it.
It is challenging work as our custody teams regularly face the risk of exposure to diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis; aggression and abuse from detainees; and have to be on aware that the chemicals and equipment they have could be grabbed and used as a weapon or to self-harm.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a model detainee and perhaps one of the worst things we have to deal with is the aftermath of ‘dirty protests’ where prisoners refuse to use the provided facilities and defecate, urinate or spread bodily fluids in the area. These bodily fluids can harbor infectious diseases and need to be cleaned up in a safe and controlled manner to prevent infection. Walls, ceilings and other fixtures and fittings are often affected and it is not always contained within the confines of the individual’s cell. In many cases the detainee will repeat this behavior consistently during there stay.
Police stations are busy places, with a lot of people coming and going at all hours of the day and night and our role is to enable the station to continue to operate with minimal disruption and quickly ensure that all the areas are clean and safe for detainees to return.
In the UK, Custody Sergeants are responsible for the welfare of the arrested individuals and detainees during their time in custody, which includes providing a hygienic prison or holding cell. Arguably a true partnership approach is more important in this environment than any other due to the risks involved and we work extremely closely with the station custody teams.
Communication is key as often the situation is fast moving and volatile and we work to a strict documented protocol. That said flexibility is also important as the environment can be unpredictable and we can’t stop half way through a clean just because the shift has ended!
Our teams are made up of a special kind of person who understands the importance of the job and is able to handle it with the right mixture of resilience and sensitivity. They receive specialist training that covers the practicalities of the role such as the different types of equipment and chemicals we use; the importance of proper clinical disposal of all materials; as well as protection training which focuses on keeping them safe. Unfortunately infection is not the only danger and teams are on the look out for items such as needles. Continuity of the members of the team is a high priority for us as it helps to engender the good relationships and trust needed to make these operations really successful. As such motivation is key and we regularly reward our teams. We also take the time to get to know them, exploring their strengths and weaknesses so we can offer them development programmes that are specifically tailored to their exact needs. Finally, and most importantly, we give them the opportunity to deploy these newly acquired skills so they can make a positive and valued contribution to our business – which we believe is key towards improving employee satisfaction. As a result we have high levels of staff retention despite the challenging nature of these contracts.
In conclusion this kind of work is not a job for the faint hearted but one for those who want to do really valuable work and be part of a tight knit team.
By Jamie Wright, Director at Incentive QAS