States of Jersey Police is running an ultra-low, six-cell custodial vehicle designed specifically for use in a detention bay with restricted access at force headquarters in St Helier.
Based on a 7.5-tonne DAF LF 45 chassis, its state-of-the-art body is the work of Gray & Adams’ Specialist Vehicles Division and built to full Prisoner Escort & Custody Service Contractor specification.
The truck’s 2730mm overall roof height, coupled with DAF’s active rear air suspension, allows it to get into and out of the low-ceilinged detention bay, which is situated at the foot of a steep slope.
Designers at Gray & Adams’ head office in Fraserburgh employed various measures including minimising floor thickness without compromising strength, and fitting a vertical exhaust, to keep the vehicle as low as possible.
As well as three secure cells down each side, the body has a saloon with two seats, rather than the more conventional single seat, for guards. This reflects the arrangements on Jersey for transferring prisoners between the police station, Magistrates and Royal (Crown) Courts in St Helier, and HM Prison La Moye some nine miles away, whereby responsibilities are shared between the police, prison service and court officials.
Prior to delivery Gray & Adams presented the new truck on its stand at this month’s (June) National Association of Police Fleet Managers’ Blue & Amber Light Fleet Exhibition in Telford, where it was the subject of considerable interest.
The manufacturer is best-known for supplying temperature-controlled semi-trailers and bodywork to many of the biggest names on Britain’s roads. However, it has also developed considerable expertise in the construction of custodial vehicles, which range from 3.5-tonne van conversions for two-cell applications, to 14-cell vehicles based on 12-tonne chassis, and include ‘Category A’ units for transporting high-security prisoners.
As with its work in the refrigerated sector, Gray & Adams adopts a consultative approach to the design of its bespoke custodial vehicles, and employs high quality materials and rigorous build standards to maximise strength and durability. As a result its bodies can be demounted and reused on second and even third chassis.
In addition to security, the safety and comfort of prisoners and their custodians was a top priority for the design team who worked on the Jersey vehicle. Heating, lighting and ventilation are all regulated from inside the body, while a warning system alerts custodians to any failure of door locks and the like.
PC Andy Linsell from the States of Jersey Police Road Policing Unit has spearheaded the project, which began some five years ago but was then put on hold before being reactivated late last year.
He recalls: "In the very early stages I visited a number of bodybuilders with one of our ‘end users’, because this vehicle represents a significant investment so we wanted to make sure we got it right.
"Gray & Adams showed us a custodial body which they’d just refurbished – it was five years old but looked brand new; we were very impressed with the build quality.
"We took their advice and instead of going with a 5.0-tonne chassis opted for a 7.5-tonner because this means it won’t be up to capacity and working too hard from the outset."
He adds: "Gray & Adams Sales Administrator Jim Webster oversaw the project and kept me updated throughout the build process. The vehicle was completed on time and within budget."