You’re Nicked! Arrest Advice

Vegan Food and Toiletries in Police Stations

Arrangements for provision of food and toiletries for vegans detained in custody varies from police station to police station.

The police have a duty to provide anyone in custody with an appropriate meal (e.g. if you are vegan you must be provided with a vegan meal). Three meals a day should be offered at recognised meal times.

Drinks should be provided at meal times and upon reasonable request between meal times. As far as practicable, meals provided shall offer a varied diet and meet any specific dietary needs or religious beliefs the detainee may have. The detainee may, at the custody officer's discretion, have meals supplied by their family or friends at their expense. Any food offered should be in unopened manufacturer-sealed packaging.

Our research shows that some police stations stock microwavable meals. To date the following ambient meals have been suitable for vegans, however, we have been informed that this might not be the case in future so we suggest you check the ingredients of each meal offered:

Disposable toothbrushes issued at police stations are unlikely to be suitable for vegans; the same applies to the soap and toothpaste.

In January 2007 we sent a questionnaire to all constabularies requesting information regarding their arrangements for vegans detained in police custody. The updated information will be available at http://www.vpsg.info/PoliceCustInfo.html

A vegan held in police custody might wish to contact us on our emergency arrest line 07984 733008 as we offer free advice and practical assistance to the police in respect of providing appropriate food and toiletries for vegans.

Relevant extracts from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

Code C - Code of Practice for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers (This Code has effect from 1 February 2008)

8 Conditions of detention

(a) Action

8.4 Access to toilet and washing facilities must be provided.

8.6 At least two light meals and one main meal should be offered in any 24 hour period. See Note 8B. Drinks should be provided at meal times and upon reasonable request between meals. Whenever necessary, advice shall be sought from the appropriate health care professional...on medical and dietary matters. As far as practicable, meals provided shall offer a varied diet and meet any specific dietary needs or religious beliefs the detainee may have. The detainee may, at the custody officer's discretion, have meals supplied by their family or friends at their expense. See Note 8A.

(b) Documentation

8.9 A record must be kept of replacement clothing and meals offered.

Notes for guidance

8A The provisions in paragraph 8.3 and 8.6 respectively are of particular importance in the case of a person likely to be detained for an extended period. In deciding whether to allow meals to be supplied by family or friends, the custody officer is entitled to take account of the risk of items being concealed in any food or package and the officer's duties and responsibilities under food handling legislation.

8B Meals should, so far as practicable, be offered at recognised meal times, or at other times that take account of when the detainee last had a meal.

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