New rules proposed for police on treatment of female detainees

The Home Office has unveiled proposed new rules for police on treatment of female detainees after warnings forces were failing to meet required standards.

Ministers are consulting on plans to bolster codes of practice to ensure menstruating women in custody are treated with dignity.

Earlier this year a watchdog suggested conditions for females on their periods while in police detention may breach human rights laws and called for the Government to launch a review.

The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) flagged up "poor practice" across England and Wales, warning women were being left without basic sanitary protection in cells.

On Tuesday the Home Office launched a consultation on draft revisions to codes of practice set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Under the proposals forces will be required to ensure all female detainees can speak to a female member of staff if requested, ask female detainees at the earliest opportunity if they are likely to require any menstrual products while in custody and made aware that these will be provided free of charge, and  consider the dignity of menstruating detainees.

Policing minister Nick Hurd said: "Everyone who is held in custody should be treated with dignity and have their needs respected.

"Our proposals should leave forces across the country in no doubt of their responsibilities towards women in custody."

The ICVA represents local independent custody visiting schemes, where local members of the public visit police custody to check on the rights, entitlements and wellbeing of detainees.

In January the body wrote to then home secretary Amber Rudd to highlight concerns about evidence emerging from the work of visitors that the needs of menstruating women in police custody are "routinely ignored".

Welcoming the consultation, ICVA chief executive Katie Kempen said: "The Home Office has acted quickly and decisively in response to our reports of shocking conditions for menstruating detainees.

"The proposed changes to PACE are a significant step forward in ensuring that the dignity of female detainees is upheld in police cells."

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