Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner has joined other commissioners across the country to call on the government to update legislation around the treatment of female detainees held within police custody.
David Keane is welcoming the Home Office consultation on revisions to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), which will put in place a number of measures to ensure female detainees are treated with dignity and respect and are guaranteed the provision of sanitary products whilst in police custody.
At present, there is no statutory requirement to provide female detainees with access to a female police officer or for police officers to check if female detainees need any menstrual products whilst in police custody or to make them aware that these will be provided free of charge.
David said: “Women in police custody deserve to be treated with respect and to be given access to the appropriate products to protect their dignity.
“In Cheshire, we have been able to put in place a number of measures to improve police custody conditions for female detainees. This includes ensuring they have access to a female detention officer, police officer or nurse whilst they are detained and ensuring sanitary products are well stocked and made available to women in police custody.
“Although we are already striving to improve conditions for female detainees in Cheshire, I am proud to unite with other police and crime commissioners in welcoming the drive by government to put in place changes to legislation so standards are high across the country.”
Police and crime commissioners have a statutory duty to make arrangements for detainees to be visited by independent custody visitors (ICVs) from local communities. In Cheshire, ICVs are required to check adequate sanitary products are stocked within custody suites. In addition, ICVs have been asked to ensure female detainees are aware that sanitary products are available if required – a question that is currently provided in 37 different languages via a translation booklet for non-English speaking detainees.
It is through such arrangements that commissioners, strongly supported by the Independent Custody Visiting Association, have been able to monitor detainee well-being and come together to help drive moves to improve conditions for individuals in police custody, including female detainees.