Police Commissioner celebrates silver status of voluntary scheme checking the welfare of people in police custody in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

A local scheme that makes sure people in custody are treated with dignity and respect has been awarded silver standard in a national award ceremony held at the House of Lords on Wednesday 15th May.

Managed by Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, the Independent Custody Visitors’ Scheme involves volunteers making unannounced visits into police custody to check on the treatment of detainees and the standards of facilities.

Last year (2018/19), over 20 volunteers carried out 98 visits and spoke to 417 detainees at Parkside and Thorpe Wood Police Stations.

The countywide scheme was awarded the silver status by national body ICVA (Independent Custody Visitors’ Association) to demonstrate the significant work that goes above and beyond the statutory requirements of the schemes which are managed across the country by Police and Crime Commissioners.

ICVA has worked with local schemes in developing a Quality Assurance Framework to set standards for a range of key areas from managing volunteers, to detainee welfare and holding the police to account. The Framework has encouraged schemes to promote their work, invest in scheme managers, recruit volunteers, increase transparency and engage with partners to drive improvements to custody. The awards event on Wednesday evening was a culmination and celebration of schemes’ work.

Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said:

“I am grateful of all of our volunteers and particularly proud in the scheme achieving Silver Standard this year. The Chief Constable and I both recognise the enormous contribution our volunteers make and remain impressed by their level of commitment, professionalism and determination. People volunteer as ICVs for a whole host of reasons – they may be interested in human rights or want to do more to help vulnerable people. Whatever the reason, ICVs make an important contribution to the rights of people in custody.”

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) act as independent monitors and report on whether Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) guidelines are being met. The schemes prevent torture and ill treatment of detainees and deliver effective oversight of police custody in order to ensure a safe environment and deliver public reassurance.

Martyn Underhill, Chair of ICVA, said: “These awards recognise the standard of scheme being run in the area, and help drive up the standards of our schemes across the UK. Warm congratulations to all of the winners.”

To find out more about the scheme visit: http://www.cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk/volunteer-schemes/independent-custody-visitors-scheme/ where you will find details about the scheme and an application form.


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