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Deputy PCC welcomes Government consultation on care for women in custody

Merseyside / August 21

Merseyside's Deputy Police Commissioner has welcomed a government consultation on menstrual care for women in custody.

Cllr Emily Spurrell was responding to the Home Office announcement that reforms are set to be made to the legislation that requires police forces to respect the dignity of female detainees and respond appropriately to their basic needs.

The consultation on changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) codes will require all police forces in England and Wales to:

  • Enable all female detainees to speak to female members of staff whilst in police custody.
  • Ask female detainees, at the earliest opportunity, whether they need menstrual products when in police custody and provide them free of charge.
  • Give sufficient care and consideration to the dignity of all menstruating detainees.

The changes to legislation complement new guidance from the College of Policing and National Police Chiefs’ Council, published earlier this month.

Responding to the announcement, Deputy PCC Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “Independent Custody Visitors perform an important safeguard, checking on the welfare and rights of detainees. I’m pleased to see that an issue in relation to the basic rights of female detainees which they have raised has, with the support and help of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), now been recognised by the Home Secretary and will be acted upon. It is yet another example of the importance of this highly valued voluntary role.

“We have already worked to make sure these measures are in place in Merseyside and I am pleased to see that legislation is going to be introduced to make sure this is implemented across the country.”

ICVA’s Chief Executive, Katie Kempen, said: “All detainees should be treated humanely and with dignity. Periods remain a taboo subject and we found that detainees were simply going without products for want of a cheap tampon or a difficult conversation. The National Police Chiefs’ Council, College of Policing and Home Office are delivering a suite of safeguards that will protect the dignity of female detainees.”

Chair of ICVA and Association of Police and Crime Commissioner's Deputy Portfolio Lead for Mental Health and Custody Martin Underhill said: "These changes will help us to change the male dominated mindset in custody suites to accommodate and facilitate the basic needs of women.”

The Home Office’s consultation is available here. The consultation closes on 1st October 2018 at 11:45pm.