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Could you volunteer as an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV)?

POLICE and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston is on the hunt for passionate and motivated volunteers who can help him maintain high standards of custody welfare.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough PCC has launched a recruitment drive to appoint a new cohort of Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) to provide impartial feedback on the wellbeing of detainees in police custody across the county.

ICVs are volunteers who work as part of a team making unannounced visits to police custody suites where people are brought and held following arrest.

As ‘critical friends’ of the force, ICVs monitor how well people in custody are being treated and report their findings back to the PCC and the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme manager to enable any recommendations for improvement to be actioned.

The delivery of Ethical Policing is a key pillar of Darryl’s Police and Crime Plan and the ICV scheme forms an integral part of the PCC’s oversight duties to maintain public confidence and ensure the force meets stringent national standards on custody provision.

Darryl said: “ICVs help to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in policing and most importantly protect the rights and dignity of people who are held in police custody.

“Detainees are often highly vulnerable individuals and the service our volunteers provide ensures they are protected and offered the legal entitlements and support they are entitled to.

“We are fortunate to live in a richly diverse county therefore it is important to me to recruit volunteers who are representative of our communities and have valuable insight to offer this scheme.”

ICVs visit in pairs and usually conduct one or two visits a month each lasting between one and two hours plus travel time.

The volunteers talk to detainees directly (with their consent) to find out how they have been treated. ICVs also speak to custody staff, as well as look at the physical condition of the custody suites.

Serving ICV Jane said she joined the scheme upon retirement, wanting to put something back into the community.

“I had never heard of ICVs until I saw a small article in a newspaper explaining what it is all about,” she said.

“I wanted to do something deep down and at the roots of a community service. As soon as someone is arrested, they are in an anxious state of mind, therefore vulnerable, whatever has caused the arrest. I have a sense of fairness in “innocent until proven guilty” and that being arrested is not the start of a punishment, therefore all detainees deserve to be cared for and treated well.

“Building a good rapport with the Police staff and Detention Officers is as important as knowing how to interview the detainees and requires diplomacy, empathy, tact, confidentiality, sensitivity, patience and consideration at all times.

“It is rewarding. At the end of a visit, it is possible to come out feeling a sense of satisfaction that we made a difference to the detainees while in custody.”

John B, who has been volunteering with the scheme for more than a decade, added: “My reason for joining and staying is that I can imagine one of my children or a neighbour offered a lift in a car. The car is stopped, and drugs are found. Everyone denies ownership so they are all detained.

“I would want to know that there is a system in place to care for them, that they are given all rights and dealt with correctly. We can’t be there all the time but we might be!

“All the team are really supportive of each other, and we are not ‘do gooders’. I believe we are all here for Justice and the ability to give something back to our Community.”

ICVs can visit at any time but most visits take place between 7am and 10pm.

To volunteer as an ICV, applicants must be at least 18 years old, living, working or studying in police area and have been resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the date of the application.

For more information and to apply, visit the Commissioner’s website at: