How custody suites are failing female detainees in 2018

Posted on February 6, 2018

Maintaining the rights of everyone detained in police custody is an essential part of many OPCC remits and is also the primary reason for the Independent Custody Visitors. Ensuring all detainees have access to their legal rights during their time in a police custody suite falls to the custody officers, and it is the ICVs’ responsibility – when visiting – to ensure that these requirements are met. In the majority of cases, any issues recorded can be quickly resolved or noted for future resolution.

A recent report by the Independent Custody Visitors Association (ICVA) issued to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd and former Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening, and has revealed that a large number of female detainees are lacking access to basic rights of hygiene and privacy, specifically when it comes to the provision of sanitary products and contact with female officers. The report is supported by many key figures, including the Dame Vera Baird, PCC for Northumbria, and Martyn Hill, PCC for Dorset and Chair of the ICVA.

The ICVA are calling for change in custody suites, asking for sanitary products to be readily available to female detainees, as well as access to washing and changing facilities, privacy while using the toilet, hygiene packs, more available female officers, and for greater sensitivity to be shown during strip searches on women who are menstruating.

It has been argued that the lack of availability of these facilities is a breach of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to a private and family life), and potentially falls under international human rights law as well.

While some custody suites do provide the appropriate levels of care and respect for female detainees regarding menstruation, there is no government legislation that states exactly what female detainees are entitled to, leading to inequalities in provision.

Is this an issue you’ve encountered at your custody suites? Our ICV App allows ICV’s to record any issues that detainees have during their stay in police custody and also records whether or not they are resolved. More importantly, it keeps track of the instances and logs the data for easy access when pulling reports on their visits. If female detainees are regularly requesting access to sanitary products or hygiene facilities, you’ll be able to see when and where these instances were recorded, and how they were resolved.


Find out more about how the ICV app can help improve processes in your custody suites today: