APCC Mental Health and Custody lead, Martyn Underhill PCC, responds to the Home Office announcement on changes to the law to ensure the dignity of women in police custody:
In October 2018, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) from across England and Wales united to urge the Government to update legislation around the treatment of detainees held within police custody. Now, working in partnership with the Independent Custody Visiting Association and following a consultation submission signed by each PCC and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, the Home Office have confirmed proposals to improve menstrual care in police custody.
Mr Underhill has welcomed the announcement:
“Today’s Ministerial announcement is an extremely welcome move forwards on an issue that affects every police force. Back in October last year, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were united in their calls for this long overdue change to the treatment of detainees within police custody. The announcement not only provides a strong example of the great work our Independent Custody Visitors perform in police custody, it also serves to demonstrate how PCCs can come together to make a difference and drive improvements. Working alongside the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), PCCs have been able to make a case for change in improving provision of sanitary products within the custody environment, which will ensure detainees are treated with dignity. We will now work with ICVA to ensure these changes are properly implemented and maintained.”
Katie Kempen, Chief Executive of ICVA, said:
“Police and Crime Commissioners have responsibility for running ICV schemes to provide independent monitoring of custody. Their united work to improve menstrual care and dignity in custody clearly demonstrates that they make improvements in a high pressure and often hidden area of policing.”
PCCs and other elected local policing bodies have a statutory duty to make arrangements for detainees to be visited by Independent Custody Visitors from local communities. It is through these voluntary schemes that Commissioners, strongly supported by the ICVA, 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.