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Stepping up staff safety for local councils

Slough Borough Council and Reading Borough Council operate independently, but when both needed a leaner, more cost-effective way to procure lone worker protection, they joined forces to find a best-in-class solution.

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Local & Central Government April 17, 2024

Safety challenges for Slough and Reading

Together, Slough Borough Council and Reading Borough Council are responsible for the management and delivery of a broad range of local civic services for more than 300,000 residents. Similar to councils nationwide, they are under intense pressure to stretch public funds ever further, safeguard staff from the growing risk of work-related abuse and ensure compliance with the health and safety responsibilities of an increasingly mobile workforce.

Reflecting socio-economic changes, both councils wanted to step up 24/7 lone worker protection for field workers, community employees and other staff in higher risk areas such as Young People’s Services, Mental Health Support, Social Care, Waste and Environment, and Housing. However, the two councils had quite different procurement preferences: Reading wanted a centralised system with a single contract, whereas Slough wanted clearly defined parameters but with separate contracts for different departments. The Reliance ‘Framework Agreement’, which is available to all publicly funded organisations in the UK, offered the flexibility to easily accommodate both councils’ requirements.

How Reliance Protect helped the Council

The Reliance Protect ‘Framework Agreement’ enabled both councils to significantly streamline their lone worker protection procurement processes. This is a nationally agreed Framework, however, it has the scope and flexibility to be tailored and scaled to meet a full range of central and local team requirements. Reliance Protect consistently uses state-of-the-art technology that assures frontline staff of guaranteed responses in a wide range of scenarios. This was all put into a comprehensive, inclusive package of services, which also included 24/7 customer support and training.

State-of-the-art protection

By combining state-of-the-art personal protection devices with a fully managed service, lone workers are assured of immediate back up and support in the event of a threat. Since the start of the contract 477 devices have been rolled out in Reading and 362 in Slough, with more continuing to be adopted. Compliant with the UK’s most stringent regulatory standards, the devices give employees the peace of mind that emergency support is available at their fingertips. Via a discreet touch of a button, the user can activate a live audio link to the dedicated 24/7 Reliance monitoring centre. There a dedicated Reliance alarm handling operator can ascertain the user’s location, listen in and, if necessary, notify the emergency services while recording everything that takes place.

Flexible and fully managed service

Implementing Reliance Protect has given Slough and Reading Borough Councils all the convenience of a flexible, fully managed service that can be customised to their specific needs while minimising costs and administration. The service, which has been widely welcomed by employees, is making it much easier for the councils to mitigate risk, meet their duty of care and create a safer working environment.

The framework can scale to support rising demand and changing usage patterns, such as greater workforce mobility, more round-the-clock working and developments in management information reporting. Combining 24/7 customer support with face-to-face training events, e-learning, local engagement and helpdesk support, the service is backed with guaranteed SLAs, KPIs and fully transparent delivery standards that are constantly monitored and accountable to rigorous public sector benchmarks.

Reliance Protect delivered a flexible framework for a lone worker solution for Slough and Reading Borough Councils. The flexible framework features fully managed services and improved incident management and reporting. The enhanced health and safety policies and practices ensured statutory compliance in line with best practice.

After conducting a detailed risk assessment and comprehensive review of potential solutions, Reliance Protect offered all the flexibility we were looking for to ensure the highest standards of lone worker protection and peace of mind for our employees.

Robin Pringle, Health & Safety Manager, Reading & Slough Borough Council