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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.

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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: https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/about/independent-custody-visitor-blog/ To apply to become an ICV click here: https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/volunteer/


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Appalling dog attack in Tilgate Park, Crawley

Dog left with ear half ripped off.

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At around 12pm on Tuesday 16th of April an off-the -eash dog, reportedly a Dalmatian, was seen attacking another dog in Tilgate Park.

The owner of Ollie, the dog being attacked, had to intervene and physically drag the Dalmatian off.

According to the owner the lady in charge of the Dalmatian allegedly did nothing but shout its name.

She then apparently said:

‘I’m a professional dog walker, I know what I’m doing’ before walking off with the aggressive dog still off the leash.

Ollie was left with gushing blood from his ear which was half ripped off and his shaken owner rushed him to the vet for emergency treatment.

Ollie is now recovering from the attack.

The police were notified but as there was no information on who the lady was, no further action could be taken.

A Facebook appeal for information was started by Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera the following morning and someone has already come forward with information which may be very helpful and will be passed on to the police.

Ollie’s owners, as if the distress of this experience wasn’t enough, were left with a £1000 bill leaving them with a sizeable excess to pay for the treatment which is ongoing due to the severity of poor Ollie’s injury.

Cllr Guidera said:

“I am absolutely disgusted by this. We have a dog and I can only imagine how distressing this must have been for Ollie and for his owners. Dogs are treated as part of the family and responsible dog walkers are very welcome in Tilgate Park. Irresponsible dog walkers, however, are absolutely not. If someone cannot control a dog, why on earth would they let it off the leash in what is likely the most popular public park in Sussex?”

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