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PACE Codes updated regarding the care and treatment of detainees

Guide to the 2019 revisions to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Codes of Practice C (Detention) and H (Detention-Terrorism)

PACE Codes C and H have been updated. Many of the changes relate to the care and treatment of detainees and and may have a particularly significant impact on children and young people in police detention.


New additions to the Codes include:

‘As soon as practicable after arrival at the police station, each detainee must be given an opportunity to speak in private with a member of the custody staff who if they wish, may be of the same sex as the detainee…about any matter concerning the detainee’s personal needs relating to their health, hygiene and welfare that might affect or concern them whilst in custody’ (Code C, paragraph 9.3A).

‘Each female detainee aged 18 or over shall be asked in private if possible and at the earliest opportunity, if they require or are likely to require any menstrual products whilst they are in custody. They must also be told that they will be provided free of charge and that replacement products are available. At the custody officer’s discretion, detainees may have menstrual products supplied by their family or friends at their expense’ (Code C, paragraph 9.3B).

‘The Children and Young Persons Act 1933, section 31, requires that arrangements must be made for ensuring that a girl under the age of 18, while detained in a police station, is under the care of a woman. The custody officer must ensure that the woman under whose care the girl is, makes the enquiries and provides the information concerning personal needs relating to their health, hygiene and welfare described in paragraph 9.3A and menstrual products described in 9.3B’ (Code C, paragraph 3.20A)

The Notice of rights and entitlements which is given to detainees has been updated so that detainees are informed of the above.

 In addition:

‘In cells subject to CCTV monitoring, privacy in the toilet area should be ensured by any appropriate means and detainees should be made aware of this when they are placed in the cell. If a detainee or appropriate adult on their behalf, expresses doubts about the effectiveness of the means used, reasonable steps should be taken to allay those doubts, for example, by explaining or demonstrating the means used (Code C Notes for Guidance 8D).


The trauma caused to children by the experience of being in police detention is significant. Humiliation caused by uncertainty over the availability of menstrual products or the privacy of the lavatory will only make things worse and therefore the amendments are welcomed.  These changes are the result of a joint response by the HomeOffice and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to a report from the Independent Custody VisitingAssociation (ICVA) which identified shortcomings in the treatment of menstruating females whilst detained at some police stations in England and Wales.