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Belfast biometric firm locks down £0.5m deal for prison


Contract: Gareth Morrison

Contract: Gareth Morrison

Contract: Gareth Morrison

Belfast biometric technology company The Lava Group has a £0.5m deal - its biggest yet - for a new prison being built in Cork.

The Lava Group will be installing hi-tech lock controllers throughout the prison. The lock controller controls the electric lock on a cell and can be integrated into biometric technology, intercom systems or cameras.

One person is able to operate it instead of three or four.

Work on the prison is due to complete by the end of this year in an investment of around €40m (£28m) by the Irish Prison Service.

The deal will not bring any new jobs to the business, but is a major success for the firm, which has a workforce of 17 - up from 13 at the beginning of the year.

The company was formed last year following a management buy-out from Core (NI).

Managing director Gareth Morrison said: "This is the largest contract we have won to date and it sets us up on a strong footing for our first year."

Through its time as part of Core NI, it has been involved in developing software and technology for prisons for the past 20 years.

Mr Morrison said: "Prior to winning this contract we spent 18 months on research and development to develop a product that would meet the demands of this prison.

"One of the most important factors for projects of this nature at the moment is that you can demonstrate that your product will produce significant cost savings and we were able to do this.

"The build in Cork is set to be an example for new prisons in southern Ireland going forward and they were interested in finding out about the most innovative solutions on the market."

He said the group had been the first to use biometrics in a range of applications in the custodial sector. Invest NI offered almost £50,000 of support towards R&D.

Belfast Telegraph