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Posted on Tuesday 17 January 2023

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner has announced joint funding with Unison and the Police Federation to allow for free sanitary products for Durham Constabulary staff, the first in the country to front this kind of initiative.

The scheme involves 26 of the Constabulary's sites being deployed with Aunt Flow vending machines and FabLittleBag dispensers being deployed to 132 estates. The Fab Little Bag dispensers are sustainably sourced disposal bags for sanitary products that are able to be sealed for safe and hygienic disposal.

Health Services Manager Angela Power said: “Following Scotland’s lead, Durham Constabulary are pleased to be the first police force in England to offer free sanitary items and disposal bags to our colleagues, working alongside Aunt Flow, Citron Hygiene and FabLittleBag.

“The wellbeing of our colleagues is an integral part of Durham Constabulary and the delivery of an excellent policing service to our local communities across County Durham and Darlington. The provision of sanitary items and disposal bags enables our female colleagues to have access to items whenever and wherever they require, reduces our environmental impact, supports period poverty, reduces health risks from prolonged use of items and supports colleagues during the current cost of living crisis.

“Aunt Flow will also provide items to local charities and food banks for packs purchased by the Force, which allows us to support our local communities with period poverty and the cost of living crisis.”

Period poverty is an increasing issue among many as the cost of living crisis puts strain on financial budgets. Plan International UK estimated one in ten people could not afford sanitary products throughout the UK, demonstrating the importance of campaigns of this nature.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Joy Allen, said: “We understand the barriers that some people face when it comes to accessing sanitary products and I am thankful that I have been able to work with the Police Federation and Unison to provide this facility for the hard working staff of Durham Constabulary.

“It is unacceptable that anyone should be unable to access sanitary products but this has become a reality in far too many people’s lives due to current financial pressures. The health and wellbeing of our staff is vital to the policing of our communities and striving for the excellent policing service that we hope to achieve.”

The scheme is currently being funded for a year and will be further reviewed following the conclusion of this funding.

Roy Collins, Durham Police Unison Branch Secretary, said: “The Durham Police Branch of UNISON is proud to support the wellbeing of staff within the Force with this initiative. Our branch membership follows UNISON’s national membership profile of over two thirds of members being female. In this day and age nobody should be denied access to such items and it is the right thing to do to give this support on such an initiative.”

Durham Police Federation General Secretary, Phil Stephenson, said: “Durham Police Federation is delighted to be able to support our members in this initiative by offering funding alongside the PCC and UNISON. In the current financial climate it felt like a great opportunity to assist our members. Nobody should have to worry about not being able to afford or being able to access such things as sanitary products. One of our senior reps Sergeant Louise Guest has worked hard with UNISON and the Constabulary to make this happen and the suggestion to offer financial assistance was met with complete agreement by every member of our Branch Council and Board.”

Martha Silcott, CEO of FabLittleBag, said: “I am thrilled that Durham Constabulary is leading the way in both the provision of free period care when needed, and addressing the issue of disposal by providing FabLittleBags to ensure easy confident disposal of tampons and pads for female officers. Flushing period products causes pollution in rivers and oceans FabLittleBag helps to stop this by educating and making binning an easy, hygienic and confident experience. Also invaluable when on non-office based duties. Durham’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell is ensuring that all female officers feel their basic needs are addressed whilst also keeping sustainability top of the agenda.”

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