As outlined in the Annual Report, Independent Custody Visiting is one of the PCC’s statutory duties and not only helps the public have greater faith in the police, it also helps the PCC to hold the Chief Constable to account.
The scheme is administered by a Volunteers Manager within the OPCC. The Volunteers Manager is the point of contact for the team, and collates and monitors the statistics of visits. There are three custody suites and a team of ICVs.
The process of a visit is outlined on this web page and within the ICV Handbook but the thoughts and experiences of each ICV may, understandably, differ.
The scheme does not require a huge amount of the volunteers time as we appreciate that people lead very busy lives, however it does require a level of commitment and flexibility. During the first six months ICVs are required to complete an induction training programme consisting of three evenings and one Saturday.
Each active custody suite must receive a minimum of one visit per week from a pair of ICVs from the team. Rota’s are drawn up in advance so visitors know which week they will be visiting and so there is a fair rotation with regards to how often each volunteer carries out visits. Based on the rota, on average each volunteer carries out one visit per month. Visits can be carried out at any time, seven days a week. It is important for the success of the ICV scheme to have visits carried out at a variety of times and this is where the need for flexibility arises.
The ICV scheme has quarterly team meetins and the ICVs are expected to attend.
Upon appointment, ICV’s are given a memorandum of understanding, which further details what is expected from them. To see a copy, please click here.
Weekend visits must be carried out to ensure an even distribution of visits. It is helpful if several volunteers are willing to carry out frequent weekend visits, and each volunteer must undertake at least one weekend visit after 8pm. This is detailed in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Many steps are taken to ensure the safety of visitors. Visitors can only undertake visits in pairs and the visitors will be advised by the police if there are any specific health and safety risks from detainees and advise if it is ever unsafe for ICVs to visit a particular detainee. Information is also given in the ICV Hand Book about specific situations and safety concerns to be aware of, but overall, the process is safe and well controlled.