Custodial construction: a systemised approach

PCE Ltd, working in partnership with Main Contractor Tilbury Douglas, completed the design, manufacture and construction of a new 48-cell secure custody suite, and oversaw the design coordination and construction of of a number of additional facilities across Durham Constabulary’s new 6600m² state-of-the-art Durham Investigative Hub. PCE worked with the wider design team consisting of project architects Ryder, and consulting engineers, Jasper Kerr.

The modern 48-cell custody suite, comprised of nearly 600 offsite manufactured elements, was designed, manufactured and built using a tailored variant of PCE’s HybriDfMA Secure Custody system, adapted to Durham Constabulary’s unique requirements. The project adds to the company’s growing portfolio of successful custodial project deliveries whilst continuing the successful working relationship between PCE and Tilbury Douglas, which follows the completion of Durham University’s Mount Oswald student accommodation development.


The journey of custody suite delivery

The custody suite was delivered using a tailored variation of PCE’s HybriDfMA Secure Custody system, which is a platform approach to police custody suites that provides the benefits of repeatability, reliability, and optimisation throughout all phases of the structural scheme, from inception to completion.  Across years of successful custodial delivery, continuous improvement and a lessons learned philosophy, PCE’s Secure Custody system has been refined to ensure leading, MMC category 2 framework superstructure solutions for cellular accommodation, compliant with all custodial NOMS to include Home Office custody design guidance.

With BIM level 2 design delivery, the systems four standardised ‘kit of parts’ components that come together to form the cell structure have been optimised, with predetermined geometric features and limits that simplify and streamline design integrations between structure, building services, architecture and security features. The custody suite’s BIM model was fully inclusive of all required cast in security and M&E features, with PCE’s design team accommodating project-specific requirements, such as space adjacencies, in cell services and finishes, along with the provision of natural light.

Following on from the design stages, PCE oversaw the manufacture of nearly 600 components across its supply chain, with production completed in just 14 weeks. The ‘kit of parts’ standardised components benefit from tried and tested unique manufacturing methodologies carried out under highly controlled factory conditions where every detail is scrutinised, ensuring the most efficiently designed units of the highest quality.

The system’s repeatability and standardisation extends into the construction phase, with optimized construction methodologies resulting in reduced risk and a streamlined assembly process. The ‘kit of parts’ components of the custody suite are designed with proven connectivity, allowing PCE's highly skilled, multidisciplinary workforce to install them rapidly, efficiently, and safely, with construction completed in only 69 days by a team of just 11 personnel, recording zero accidents across 7181 hours.

In addition to the custody suite, PCE were responsible for the design and construction of the precast concrete facades to the charge suite, the associated office space, and affray corridors using high-quality insulated sandwich panels, as well as the installation of the cladding for both the main office and ancillary building.

The rapid, efficient and successful delivery of Durham Constabulary's new high-quality custody suite stands as a testament to the efficiency and reliability of an optimized system build solution, achieving high-quality, highly durable cellular accommodation installed by a significantly reduced on-site workforce, with a reduction in site deliveries, minimal waste and reduced carbon through smart design.  The successful structural completion of the custody suite continues to drive PCE's reputation as a leader in the field of custodial construction, having handed over nearly 10,000 secure and robust cells and prison places with consistent efficiency, reliability, and longevity.

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