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Police Commissioner checks on welfare of detainees

POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, joined Independent Custody Visitors on Monday evening (8th August) in Thorpe Wood Custody unit to check on the rights of people held in custody.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) make unannounced visits to custody suites to check on the wellbeing of detainees and the standard of facilities. They act as independent monitors to report on whether Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) guidelines are being met.

Every Police and Crime Commissioner in the country has a statutory duty to have an Independent Custody Visitor Scheme in place.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, explains:

“People volunteer as ICVs for a whole host of different 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.”

“As ever I was hugely impressed with the commitment and dedication of officers during our visit which was equalled by those volunteers who are giving up their time to make these very important visits.”

“If this is something you might like to consider as a volunteering opportunity, then I would love to hear from you.”

With 25 years’ experience under his belt, Peterborough resident Andrew Wilcox describes what inspired him to become a custody visitor.

“Volunteering as an ICV gives you access to an area the public are generally unaware of. You get good training and buddy up with experienced volunteers when you start. Visits (which happen unannounced and once a week), always happens in pairs and your safety is paramount. You don’t know the reason why detainees are being held – your job is to make sure their rights and entitlements have been acknowledged, and that they understand why they are being held. If there is something we are not happy about, we speak to the Custody Officer to put it right and file a report which goes to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

There are currently 18 volunteer ICVs from all walks of life, between them paying weekly visits to the Force’s two custody centres in Cambridge and Peterborough.

During 2015/16, ICVs made 124 visits and spoke to a total of 445 detainees about the conditions of the facilities and their overall treatment.

For more information about the ICV scheme in Cambridgeshire and how to get involved, visit: