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Safety features must be present at the start

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With regards to your editorial on 'Learning from Newham:

uncovering the cracks in PFI' (AJ 22.1.04), the inherent problems associated with the specification of standard window designs in the security sector can lead to many problems, the most tragic being suicide and attempted suicide by detainees.

Fenestration for prisons and detention centres must meet stringent criteria - the primary feature being that it offers no ligature fixture point of any kind.

Clearly, too, it must be extremely secure and provide inmates with no opportunity to use any part of the window as a potential weapon. In addition, the design of the window assemblies should ensure optimum resistance to vandalism to minimise maintenance costing service.

The only way to ensure that these criteria are fully complied with is for the relevant authority to insist on products that have been designed from the outset to meet the task and which are capable of being adapted to meet any specification demands.

Monitoring costs on any project is, of course, vital, although any cost/benefit must take into account the paramount importance of prisoner safety and security.

J H Pyatt, managing director, Crittall Windows, Essex

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