England: Police to offer free sanitary products to female detainees

Police forces in England and Wales will be required to offer free sanitary products to female detainees under new plans announced by the Home Office today.

The changes will also require police forces to make arrangements for all detainees to speak in private to a member of custody staff of the same sex about personal needs relating to their health, hygiene and welfare.

The Home Office completed a public consultation, which saw overwhelming support from the public and the police for the proposals.

Nick Hurd, minister of policing and the fire service, said: “I have been clear that everyone who enters custody should be treated with dignity and have their personal needs met.

“Great progress has been made by the police, ICVA and the College of Policing on this issue, and today we are announcing how we will ensure these standards are met across the board.”

The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) wrote to the Home Office last year with concerns that women were being left without basic sanitary protection in police cells.

Kate Kempen, chief executive of ICVA, said: “The Independent Custody Visiting Association welcomes the announced changes to legislation.

“These changes ensure that the needs of female detainees are addressed, that detainees have basic privacy to use a toilet and access to menstrual products and that dignity is promoted within the police custody environment.

“No detainee should be left to bleed for want of a difficult conversation or a cheap tampon. These changes should ensure that never happens.”

The intended changes will be brought into effect when the revised Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Codes of Practice have been laid in Parliament.

Additionally, the College of Policing has also strengthened its guidance on ensure the needs of menstruating detainees are adequately met.