Belfast Telegraph

Core Systems eyeing up fresh export deal to install technology in penal facilities across Nordic area

Patricia O'Hagan, chief executive of technology firm Core Systems
Patricia O'Hagan, chief executive of technology firm Core Systems
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

The chief executive of technology firm Core Systems said the Nordic region was a natural target for the company's export drive.

Core Systems flew to Denmark, courtesy of British Airways and Invest NI, after coming out top in the Export Challenge.

One of its systems is used in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre near Belfast, and it also has business in North America.

But Patricia O'Hagan said meeting fresh export customers face-to-face was crucial to getting people to sign on the dotted line.

"It's really essential to go out and meet the people because your choices of being successful in a bid are so much better if you engage directly," she said.

"We have been looking to the Nordic region now that we are very much focused on prisoner technology.

"The prison system there is quite forward-looking compared with other regions, so the type of solution we are offering fits in very well with their outlook and aims for rehabilitation."

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During the firm's trip to Denmark in August, business development manager Diana Atchison and commercial director Tommy Maguire met potential clients and customers though no deals have yet been finalised.

Contracts for the firm take a long time to finalise, due to the long lead-in for agreeing deals with public sector clients.

Ms O'Hagan said visiting facilities was crucial to understand how they operated and how their system needs might differ.

The thinking behind the penal system which prevails in Nordic countries is drastically different from the UK and America.

"There is an emphasis on a 'through the gate' system so that people are working in the community as well as serving their time in the prison sentence," she said.

She said their systems can be adapted to suit the prison regime.

"But we don't monitor prisoners - instead we give them access to services like education and other information," she said.

Their system can be adapted so prisoners can learn new skills and line up employment opportunities and housing upon release.

"One thing we have found about Nordic regions is that there is closer communication with employers. Our system facilitates that sort of communication."

Belfast Telegraph