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Improved Security System at the Manchester Royal Infirmary
Optimum has been instrumental in developing a state-of-the-art security system for the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust, which resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in the incidence of crime.

In 2001, the Trust underwent a merger that brought together seven local hospitals incorporating 7,000 staff and 50 acres of site. The need for adequate security was paramount in an area dominated by drugs and gun crime.

The original security system incorporated only 7 CCTV monitors and internal research found that staff had a very negative view of security levels at the hospital. Thieves found the MRI an easy target and it was clear that the hospital needed to provide a safer environment for patients, staff and visitors alike.

A security audit was conducted and Optimum was brought in to help co-ordinate a long-term security strategy for the hospital. A substantial grant was secured from the Home Office, which enabled MRI to design, test and commission a 1.2 million central security facility.

An Alarm and CCTV monitoring Centre has enabled live footage to be relayed from 157 colour cameras to a state-of-the-art control room, which benefits from a central call-up screen and functional screens with macros. The CCTV footage is recorded in real time and the operators are able to monitor intruder and other alarms, control barriers and door entry systems and act as a base station for independent radio.

MRI has built a good working relationship with the local police and now has a dedicated officer working alongside the hospital to reduce the opportunity for crime. Images from the control room can be passed to the police and other local authorities and has brought added protection to the surrounding area including roads, bus stops, shops, bank cash points and telephone kiosks.

An important factor of the scheme has been to promote the added level of security to the hospital staff and explain how they can directly benefit from it. For example, staff who are working late at night can be monitored by the cameras on their way back to the car park or bus stop. During winter months 'walking bus routes' are set up for staff coming into the hospital early on dark mornings. Deliveries of drugs from pharmacy to wards and cash being taken from outlets to cashiers are also monitored both by security guards and CCTV.

MRI used to have a handful of security staff, yet now they are the eyes and ears for employees. The more staff know about the service and how they can benefit from it, the more secure and motivated they feel while working in a hospital environment.