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Could you be a Custody Visitor?

POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Darryl Preston is urging people to help maintain policing standards by volunteering to become Independent Custody Visitors (ICV).

Darryl is looking to recruit new volunteers to be part of an important scheme whereby members of the community make unannounced visits to police stations to check on the rights, wellbeing and treatment of people being held in police custody.

The ICV scheme is integral to the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan commitment to ensuring the highest possible standards within policing.

“ICVs perform a crucial role. Detainees in custody can sometimes be quite vulnerable people and these independent, unannounced inspections are key to making sure they are treated fairly,” Darryl said.

“Volunteering as an ICV is a fantastic opportunity, providing a unique insight into the police service and promoting the highest possible standards. It is vital that those volunteering truly reflect the rich diversity of our county, therefore the opportunity is open to anyone who is 18 years or older and has been a UK resident for three years.”

The programme was established following the Scarman Report into the Brixton riots in 1981 and is now a statutory responsibility for police and crime commissioners to operate in their respective areas across the country.

ICVs visit custody suites in pairs and speak directly to detainees to find out how they have been treated. They also speak to custody staff and look at the physical condition of the custody suites.

Independent Custody Visitors usually carry out one or two visits a month. Most visits last between 1-2 hours, plus travel time.

The findings from their visits are then shared with the Police and Crime Commissioner who uses them to hold the police to account.

To be a good ICV you need strong ethical principles and be able to maintain confidentiality.

The scheme welcomes applications from people across a range of background, ages and experience.

Jo, an ICV from Cambridgeshire, said: “I became an IVC several years ago, and have enjoyed every minute. We meet people from all walks of life, both as fellow ICVs and detainees. It feels good to put something back into my local area.”

Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to fill out an application form on the Commissioner’s website.