Open and Transparent Quality Mark 2016/17 and 2017/18

Commissioner confident women detainees get good treatment

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez says she is confident that Devon and Cornwall Police has responded to a call for women being held in custody to get the appropriate support when menstruating.

Ms Hernandez was speaking after the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) wrote to the Home Office expressing concern about the conditions women under arrest face when menstruating.

Independent custody visitors are members of the local community that visit police stations unannounced, to check on the treatment of detainees, the conditions in which they are being held and ensure that their rights and entitlements are being observed.

“Our custody centres stock feminine hygiene packs that are offered to female detainees,” she said.

“Our ICVs always ask any detainees they interview whether they have been offered the packs and have never reported an issue in this area.

“Treating people with respect and dignity are core values of policing.

“In Devon and Cornwall ICVs routinely prioritise their interviews on female detainees as well as young people and the vulnerable.

“From the feedback provided this has not emerged as an issue to-date in Devon and Cornwall. I am reassured by our ICVs that this has not been raised as a problem.”

Dr Karen Mellodew, who manages the ICV service in Devon and Cornwall said that while she welcomed the ICVA involvement its findings needed looking at further.

“The general principles outlined, provide a fantastic benchmark against which to assess the way that women are treated when detained and I would fully support their inclusion in authorised professional practice and guidance,” she said.

“However I am firmly of the view that enshrining them within statute should be avoided.

“There are occasions when the risk of self-harm for example might mean that it would be simply inappropriate and potentially dangerous to provide such materials to an individual in custody.

“The need to preserve a woman’s dignity and respect needs to be carefully balanced against the need to preserve life and wellbeing.”