Women In Custody Will Now Be Offered Free Sanitary Products
Women in police custody will now be offered free sanitary products if they are on their period, after a new government ruling.
In an effort to ensure that women brought into custody are treated with dignity, the Home Office has ruled that all women who are menstruating, or who have any other personal hygiene requirements, are offered products free of charge.
As part of the change, police will have to ask female detainees if they are likely to require any products when they arrive.
In addition, police forces will be required to make arrangements for detainees to speak privately to female custody staff about personal needs relating to their health, hygiene and welfare.
This is in response to an investigation by independent watchdog, Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), that found women in custody were unable to speak to female police officers and police "routinely ignored" the needs of menstruating women.
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Sanitary pads and tampons that were previously on offer were of prison-issue standard and did not cater to a wide range of women. Sherry Ralph, the ICVA's chief operating officer described the sanitary products available as "woeful", and said custody suites "typically only have one absorbency of tampon and towel available".
The ICVA also reported shocking incidents of female detainees being stripped of all clothing, including underwear, and made to wear paper suits with no menstrual products being offered. One police force even refused to provide sanitary products to women on the grounds of 'safety reasons'.
In addition, the watchdog also posed concerns about lack of access to hand-washing facilities for women and the use of CCTV in prison cells.
When put to the public, the Home Office say they received "overwhelming support". Nick Hurd, Minister for 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."
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash: Joesfin