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No smoking policy

Dated: 25 May 2021

POLICY TITLE: No Smoking Policy

OWNING DIRECTORATE: People Services & Development

AUTHOR: People Services




AIM OF POLICY: To advise all Northumbria Police officers and staff that a 'no smoking' policy exists within buildings and vehicles under its control, and their responsibilities in relation to this. Smoking for the purpose of the policy is defined as the smoking of cigarettes, cigars and pipes. This also includes the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which must not be used within Force owned or leased premises and vehicles.

BENEFIT OF POLICY: Every member of Northumbria Police will be aware of their responsibilities in terms of themselves and others, e.g. dealing with smokers in custody.

REASON FOR POLICY: To outline what responsibilities Northumbria Police officers and staff have in relation to the no smoking policy.


Northumbria Police acknowledges that this policy may impinge upon the rights of police officers, staff and other persons, and that it has a positive duty to protect life under article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Under the Health Act 2006, it is a criminal offence to smoke in any premises used as a place of work, or inside any vehicles used for work. Northumbria Police will therefore operate a 'no smoking' policy within all of the buildings or vehicles under its control. It will, however, be permitted to smoke outside Northumbria Police buildings and vehicles, in the open air.

Northumbria Police accepts the medical evidence that lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and other serious diseases are directly linked to smoking, and the concern raised about the effects of passive smoking on non-smokers. All staff have a responsibility to co-operate to ensure health and safety in the workplace. The success of the 'no smoking' policy will depend upon the consideration and co-operation of all police officers and members of staff.

Smoking for the purpose of the policy is defined as the smoking of cigarettes, cigars and pipes. This also includes the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which must not be used within Force owned or leased premises/vehicles.

Although e-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke-free legislation, the organisation prohibits the use of e-cigarettes within police buildings. The rationale for this approach is that although they do not produce smoke, e-cigarettes produce a vapour that could provide an annoyance or health risk to others.

Policy Objectives

  • To ensure that non-smokers are not involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapours.
  • To inform people of the risks to health.
  • To assist those who wish to stop smoking.
  • To accommodate those who wish to continue smoking.


It is the responsibility of Area Commanders and Heads of Department to ensure that the 'no smoking' policy is implemented effectively and enforced uniformly. Officers and staff have personal responsibility under this policy and are expected to observe the highest standards of conduct, operating in line with the Code of Ethics.


General workplaces/Recreational areas

This requirement will therefore extend to all workshops, store rooms, offices, washrooms, toilets, parade rooms, lifts, passages, stairs, kitchens, refreshment areas, games rooms, and public areas of police buildings.

Single Occupancy Offices

Offices with only one occupant will be designated as no-smoking areas in order to protect other members of staff who may have cause to enter that office.

Outdoor Areas

Tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapours disperse quickly outdoors therefore represents a much reduced hazard for the passer-by, the policy, therefore, does not generally restrict smoking outdoors.

Other Buildings

The 'no smoking' policy will apply to any room or building that is hired or leased to the Force for any reason.


All police vehicles used for work purposes including hired, privately owned and loaned vehicles, will be smoke and vapour free. Drivers and passengers, irrespective of category, will refrain from smoking.

Other Considerations

Members of the public who attend police premises as witnesses, or victims may express the desire to smoke. In such circumstances reasonable arrangements should be made to facilitate this. In practice this may mean providing regular smoking breaks during interviews. As with all other people on police premises, they will only be allowed to smoke outside the building, preferably where a bin is provided for cigarette butts.

Cigarette butt receptacles will be located so as not to present a hazard e.g. tripping or obstruction of exit routes.


All meetings will be smoke-free regardless of where they are held. Responsibility for this requirement rests with the Chair of the meeting.


No member of staff will be required by their contract of employment or otherwise to work in a smoking environment.

Visits to dwellings

There will be a requirement on occasions for police officers and police staff to visit private dwellings to take statements and investigate crime etc. There are no legal conditions regarding residents or their visitors smoking in their own homes. However, Northumbria Police acknowledges an officer's / member of staff's right not to inhale second hand smoke and vapours. The police officer or police staff member present must therefore decide whether they wish to ask that the cigarette be extinguished or that other considerations are made, e.g. a smoking break is taken outside, or the interview is continued at a police station.

Assistance for Smokers

Northumbria Police will continue to promote and support no-smoking campaigns/initiatives. Publicity will be given to the dangers of smoking and the risks associated with passive smoking.

Custody Areas

Smoking is prohibited in all police cells and custody areas within the Northumbria Police force area. This ban applies to all prisoners, including remands and productions, and to all other persons including police staff and officers, who are present within the custody suite.

Northumbria Police acknowledges a person's right to a fair trial afforded by the Human Rights Act 1998 and, in cases of apparently severe nicotine withdrawal; if it is apparent to a custody officer that a prisoner's welfare is being affected by not being allowed to smoke, then the custody officer should seek the advice of the Forensic Medical Examiner (FME), who may prescribe nicotine replacement.

This decision will not affect a custody officer's decision to call the FME if there is concern in respect of the prisoner's health.

Smoking on police premises has significant health and safety implications. Not only may there be health risks to non-smoking staff or prisoners associated with passive smoking, but smoking by prisoners in cells greatly increases the risk of fire on police premises. The detritus of smoking creates an additional cleaning burden and the effects of tar and nicotine staining necessitate frequent redecoration. There are no advantages connected with smoking in custody areas.

In relation to e-cigarettes, advice from the British Medical Association (BMA) currently indicates there is not yet any conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are not harmful from a passive smoking perspective, and consequently protection should be afforded to persons being exposed to the vapours.

The following information will assist custody officers to implement this policy:

GEOAmey Ltd

GEOAmey Ltd operates a no smoking policy in all of their vehicles, but have experienced problems with prisoners concealing smoking requisites upon their person. Their staff will co-operate with force policy.

Prison Policy

HMP Durham and Holme House do not allow prisoners to take cigarettes or tobacco to court. HMPs Northallerton, Castington, Low Newton and Deerbolt send smoking requisites in sealed property bags. Their staff support the GEOAmey ban, notwithstanding prisoner pressure.

Searching of Prisoners

It is policy to search all prisoners upon arrival at police stations, irrespective of their place of origin. That policy remains unchanged and the likelihood of prisoners attempting to smuggle smoking requisites into police premises will require extra vigilance on the part of staff conducting such searches.


Implementation of this policy will provoke protests from prisoners and from solicitors on behalf of their clients. Anyone who objects should be informed that it has been drawn up on health and safety grounds and with the benefit of legal advice. Such objections will be entered into the custody record.


Persons visiting prisoners will not be permitted to give smoking requisites to prisoners, nor will such items be accepted on behalf of prisoners at police station counters.


The success of this policy depends upon rigorous enforcement and without exception in every custody area throughout the Force. Experience elsewhere has shown that, after initial resistance, habitual offenders become accustomed to the situation and accept it. Supervisors will therefore ensure that custody officers are rigorous in their application of this policy.


SOURCE DOCUMENT: Health and Safety Legislation




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