POLICE in Hampshire have launched a review on how religious materials are stored.

It comes after inspectors found copies of religious texts such as the Koran and the Bible lying among pots and pans and dirty underwear in custody suites.

They also found that some detainees held in police custody in Hampshire were not able to access books for their faith.

At Southampton central station volunteer inspector Pritheepal Singh found copies of the Koran, and other holy books discarded among pots and pans.

Later at another Hampshire station he found other holy books thrown in with dirty underwear.

Following that inspection, Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes has ordered that cabinets be put up in every custody suite to store books “with the required dignity and respect”.

Mr Singh said: “We found the Koran and other holy books shoved in with pots and pans which I find very upsetting and I was quite distressed about that.

“We reported this back to the commissioner saying that all religious materials must be treated with dignity.

“I said that I needed to know about the other cust o d y suites and how they are treating these books. There we found religious materials in a worse place.

“They were in bags with socks, clothing, they were thrown in with the laundry.

In another case one woman was not able to access books associated with her faith because they weren’t available at the station where she were being held.

Mr Singh added: “Her human rights were violated. “If somebody was to ask to read the religious materials while they’re in custody and the books aren’t there, that’s a violation of human rights.

“I’m not happy about it. It’s a big issue. It’s about the respect and dignity that should have been in place.”

After raising the issue with Mr Hayes, Hampshire police has promised to invest in display units for the religious materials at all of its custody suites.

Mr Singh hopes that other forces across the country will take on board the changes made by Hampshire police.

PCC Simon Hayes said, “Independent custody visitors play a vital role in ensuring that anyone brought into police custody is treated fairly and that their human rights are strictly adhered to.

“I am pleased to say that the storage of religious items in Hampshire has been improved and that local experiences will promote national learning and greater religious understanding.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank those in the central custody team for the swift response in this matter, and I am confident that those who seek religious support while in police custody will be dealt with appropriately.”