Independent Custody Visitors

 Custody Visit

Rupert Matthews joins the Independent Custody Visitors on a visit to the custody cells  

What is the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme?

The Independent Custody Visiting was established in 1984 on a non-statutory basis to provide assurance to local communities about how those in the custody of the police are being treated. In 2003 custody visiting became statutory and the Home office issued and a Code of Practice to which PCCs and Independent Custody Visitors should have regard in carrying out their relevant functions.  To accompany the Code of Practice the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) produced National Standards which form the third and final part of the framework of rules and guidance to support effective custody visiting.

The Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) undertake visits in pairs to one of the 3 Custody Suites in Leicester; Beaumont Leys, Euston Street and Keyham Lane.  During visits, ICVs speak with the detainees to ensure they are being treated fairly, ensure the detainees receive their rights and entitlements and also examine the conditions of the cells and custody suite as a whole, bringing any issues to the attention of the Custody Sergeant.  During visits ICVs complete a visit report form electronically which is sent to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

You can read more about the scheme in detail and how it fits into the PCC’s statutory duties in the Annual Report.

New ICVs will be comprehensiveley trained and supported by the Scheme Manager, will undertake a 'mock' visit to familiarise themselves with the role and will have the option of having a 'buddy' to ensure they feel supported and welcomed into the role.  We asked a current ICV to give her views on her time and experiences in the scheme and you can read her thoughts and the thoughts of other ICVs below.

If you feel this is something you would like to become involved in please contact the office, either by email ( or by calling 0116 229 8980 for more information.

A comprehensive training programme is provided and includes sessions on the legal and procedural aspects of the role, the relevant aspects of Code C of PACE and the Human Rights Act, health and safety, data protection, the role of the Custody Sergeant, police complaints procedures and equality and diversity awareness.  There is also ongoing support from other ICVs and the Scheme Manager.

The OPCC Scheme Manager prepares the visiting rota, receives and processes visit forms, responds to issues raised from visits, deals with expenses and acts as a point of contact for the visitors to provide ongoing guidance and support.  The ICV role is voluntary and an unpaid role, however ICVs are reimbursed for any expenses incurred for travel to and from training, meetings and custody visits.

The Leicestershire Independent Custody Visiting Scheme is an accredited scheme and holds the 'Investing in Volunteers' award since 2012.  Further details can be found on the Investing in Volunteers Report.  The Leicestershire scheme has also been recognised as 'Gold Standard' by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) as part of their Quality Assurance Framework.


For more information please go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.


Please find below documentation in relation to the Custody Visiting Scheme:

Annual Reports

Please find below the ICV Annual Reports which are available to download:


ICV Comments
 Rosemary, ICV - 25 years

It’s hard to believe that it was 24 years ago when I saw an advert in the local newspapers asking for volunteers for Independent Custody visitors across Leicestershire. I applied not really understanding what the role involved but I was really interested to find out more.

I was working full time in the Civil service and while I didn’t have a legal background, my brother in law was a solicitor (not in Leicester), so I knew a little bit about where he visited and how many people he saw.  Over the years, I’ve volunteered and still act as a school governor at an Infant school, helped with 2 local animal charities, been an education speaker for the Blue Cross, help at a local group of Riding for the Disabled (Carriage driving with horses) and am treasurer for several organisations.

After the initial training, I started to visit Wigston, which was a small custody suite with only a few cells. In the early days, I felt like a bit of a nuisance as I guess, back then, the Police didn’t quite understand what the new role involved but I must say the role has evolved significantly since then as I can imagine everyone understands we are truly independent and will actively listen to all parties.

I don’t recall seeing many young people at Wigston in the early days but I have noticed a change over the years. It’s very clear that alcohol, drugs and mental health are now major factors with detainees across all age groups, ethnicities and genders. I suppose those problems were prevalent in the early years but this wasn’t something that was discussed or noticeable.

The biggest recent changes have been the training and management which has evolved dramatically with a greater focus on the service and communication. The visits have also improved with me speaking to more detainees and visiting more than one custody suite.

I enjoy the role as it’s great to be an impartial eyes and ears, be part of a wider team, widening my horizons and knowledge as no two visits are the same and I get to meet a huge array of people and life experiences. It can sometimes be challenging but with the support and training from Dharmista, the team and the office it ensures I feel confident to deal with most experiences.  My family are very supportive of my volunteering with the OPCC and some of my friends are interested and intrigued about what the role involves.

I would recommend volunteering with the OPCC as the training helps to widen your knowledge and be part of a team. You do feel that you are giving something back by being independent and listening to all parties. 

More recently, I now volunteer with the OPCC Animal welfare scheme which works with the Leicestershire Police dog unit to maintain and improve standards and care of all Police dogs.  The dogs are amazing so I love this new role.

January 2023

 Magaret Potter, ICV - 9 years

I agree wholeheartedly with all that Rosemary has highlighted about the role and our place in the custody process.  I have been in the role for nearly nine years now so am by her standards a relatively new girl. I have never regretted volunteering and find the role gives my life in retirement an added purpose and interest. I would encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to consider joining us. The training is comprehensive, the support outstanding, and the fellowship an added bonus. A chance to see ‘how the other half lives’, it can also be humbling.

I think the best thing about the scheme in Leicestershire is the amount of support we receive not only from each other but from the OPCC. Our suggestions and ideas are also welcome and often acted on.

January 2024

Kirit Mistry, ICV - 9 years

The ICV role is important to give detainees and communities confidence that they will get fair and just treatment.  As independent ICV’s from the community we check on the welfare and treatment of the detainees.

January 2024

Malcolm Goff, ICV - 8 years

I am originally from London and have lived in Leicestershire for 30 years. I have retired  as a solicitor, but still undertake tribunal work and get involved with giving training and advice to new members. 

I joined the Leicestershire ICV Scheme in 2015.  I saw an advert inviting applications to join the scheme. I was unaware that there was a national scheme for independent members of the public to visit detainees in custody. Having been accepted I underwent the training which was very interesting and comprehensive. I soon realised that the scheme performs a vital and necessary function, ensuring detainees are given the basic human rights to which everyone is entitled.  

Over the time I have undertaken the role I have noticed an increased emphasis on checking the mental health of detainees. I also volunteer for an Independent Monitoring Board of a prison and note the high number of detainees and prisoners with serious mental health issues.

I feel that the ICV Scheme can make a difference. Around 5-6 years ago ICVs highlighted the fact that female detainees were not always receiving adequate sanitary products.  This was then taken up by Independent Custody Visitors Association and has been addressed.

It is interesting to gain an insight into the workings of the criminal justice system and to be part of such a well-run scheme. 

January 2024