A large bean bag is to be piloted for the first time by a Yorkshire police force in a bid to safely restrain violent and drunk offenders.
Humberside Police is the first force in the country to test the use of the UK Safety Pod at its Clough Road custody suite in Hull.
The pod, essentially a heavy duty bean bag, will be used as part of a six-month pilot scheme after it has been successfully used in other institutions including mental health care facilities and prisons.
Humberside Police Chief Inspector Paul Butler said: "This pilot is important for us to see if the pod brings the expected benefits to the safety and protection of custody officers as well as prisoners that that come into custody.
“Currently if we have to restrain a violent or intoxicated prisoner we have to place them face down on the floor, using approved restraining techniques, this process brings with it the potential for injury to both the prisoner and the custody staff.
“This pod is not a soft option for prisoners, it’s not for their comfort, but it does have the ability to provide a safe and secure environment and does induce a calming effect on those who are placed on one.
“It is hoped that if the pilot scheme is a success we will get a further two pods for the holding cells at Clough Road and look to introduce them into our other custody suite at Birchin Way in Grimsby.
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Staff have already been trained in how to use the pods.
Chief Inspector Butler said he hoped to see a reduction in the number of assaults on police staff in custody, as well as a fall in some of the minor injuries suffered when a prisoner is resisting restraint.
He said: “We actively look for new and innovative ways of reducing harm and assaults on staff and the custody suite is a key location for this type of offence to occur. What the pod does is provide officers with the advantage in terms of seeing early warning signs of heightened agitation in the prisoner and therefore the ability to restrain them appropriately.
“The pod provides a raised platform which is designed to give staff the advantage of being much less restrictive and safer. The restraining of prisoners is also carried out at a comfortable working height reducing the risk of any potential back injuries to officers."
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When on the pod a prisoner will be held in a position which is much better for maintaining an open airwave, reducing the risk of positional breathing difficulties. They are less likely to harm themselves from coming into contact with hard surfaces such as the floor and walls of the cell and it requires less officers to restrain them.
Chief Inspector Butler said: “If the prisoner presents with a mental health condition the pod provides a familiar restraint or holding environment which could help calm them down and reduce their stress levels.
“The position that the prisoner is sitting in the pod created a natural position of looking up to custody staff, at the moment if detainees are sitting down with the hands behind their backs they tend to be crouched forwards, not only creating a poor sitting position but it naturally means they do not have eye contact with the custody staff.
The pod has been loaned to Humberside Police free of charge by manufacturers, UK Pods Limited.