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Thicker mattresses, a range of sanitary products & drinking water. The upgrades to police cells in Sussex

Small changes are being made to make conditions better for detainees.



Life as a detainee is about to get better now that recommendations by an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) manager in Sussex are being implemented.

Sarah Friend spent 17 hours in custody from arrest right through to next day release and in that time was able to experience what it was like.

During that time she was also able to ask and get a toothbrush and noticed that some of the ‘neighbours’ in other cells were provided with extra food if they wanted it.

She also noted that the mattresses were rather worn and thin and that if you wanted some water you had to ask for it.

As a result of her findings Sussex Police have implemented changes to ensure that detainees have a more ‘comfortable’ experience.

Commenting on her stay, Sarah said:

“I was keen to look into having drinking water in the cells, as this would not only help the detainee but save on staff time going to and from the kitchen.

“I also investigated if there’s a national standard for mattresses in cells. The length of the bench was fine – I’m 6 foot tall and could lie straight. I was happy with the temperature and cleanliness of the cells; when I asked for a toothbrush I got one, and my neighbours got the extra food they asked for. However, the mattresses were old, worn and very thin.

“More than ever I stand by the change I’d like to see to female hygiene in custody; it’s not a pleasant experience using the toilet in a cell anyway, but to make a female who is menstruating have to buzz every time she needs certain products just isn’t right in my opinion. Sussex now offers a good variety of products but I still feel there’s work to be done in this area.”

Sarah’s job is a unique one at the best of times. She manages a team of volunteers who check on the welfare of detainees held in custody. They make unscheduled visits at any time of the day or night to custody suites across Sussex speaking to their detainees and ensuring their rights are being upheld. 

Across the UK in 2017/18 Independent Custody Visitors made well over 9,000 visits to police custody to check on detainees, visiting over 28,000 people. From a portion of those visits in Sussex the changes made already have been ground breaking, especially the lobbying of the government with PCC Katy Bourne (who funds the scheme) to supply a range of menstrual products for female detainees. 

Sarah is looking for ICV volunteers in Eastbourne to join her team.

To read Sarah’s blog click here: To apply to become an ICV click here:


Tributes paid after Tilgate Councillor passes away

Councillor Charles Petts passed away yesterday evening (15th July).



Councillor Charles Petts recently won a council seat for Tilgate in the May elections after serving as a West Sussex County Councillor for Three Bridges.

Posting on his facebook page Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera said:

“Yesterday evening I lost one of my best friends to cancer.

We’d been friends since 2006, well before either of us got involved in local politics.

Cllr Charles Petts to most and Jeff to his friends, Jeff was a great guy. A really kind, generous man who lived his Christian faith and smiled at life.

Jeff knew my family really well, knew my kids, knew my mum and dad, and loads of my family. He was a big part of my life.

Whenever I met up with him or whenever he came over to my place (which was very, very regularly) I said the usual “how’s it going?” and he would say “ahk you know, I’m alright, can’t complain”.

Jeff had been battling cancer for a couple of years, and was putting up a great fight, even doing a tough mudder last year, but then very recently, it all changed.

I am heartbroken. I haven’t lost a colleague, I’ve lost a brother, a best friend.

Jeff has left behind a young daughter and a son. I am heartbroken for them too, completely.

I look forward to seeing Jeff in the next life, and until then I will miss him greatly.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“He was well liked and dedicated and will be a great loss to Crawley.”

Mr Smith also tweeted:

Crawley Conservative Leader Duncan Crow tweeted:

Leader of Crawley Council tweeted:

A statement from Crawley Borough Council said:

“Councillor Charles Petts, ward councillor for Tilgate, died peacefully yesterday evening in St Catherine’s Hospice with his son present.

Charles had been a Crawley Borough Councillor since May and a West Sussex County Councillor for Three Bridges since 2017.”

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