Independent custody visitors
The main area that people can volunteer with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is as an independent custody visitor.
Independent custody visitors are members of the local community that visit police stations unannounced to check on the treatment of detainees, the conditions in which they are being held and ensure that their rights and entitlements are being observed.
Independent custody visitors (ICVs) come from a variety of backgrounds and sections of the community. They must be over 18 years old and, as they must be independent, serving police officers and others who work in the policing family (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner staff, Special Constables, lay justices or members of the Police and Crime Panel) cannot undertake this role.
They must live or work in the area of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and have been resident in the UK for the past three years prior to application.
This is your chance to offer protection to both detainees and the police, reassurance to the community at large and gain an insight into the criminal justice system by checking on the treatment of people in police custody, the conditions in which they are held, and that their rights and entitlements are being observed.
Visiting a custody centre can take between half an hour to a few hours twice a month. ICVs always visit in pairs and decide themselves when the visit is made - morning, day or night!
Custody centres receive four visits per month per station; these include Exeter, Torquay, Plymouth, Barnstaple, Newquay and Camborne. ICVs generally visit their closest two stations.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) is a major reference for ICVs as well as equality, diversity and human rights legislation. Full training will be provided, and your first twelve visits will be with experienced visitors. Further related training is provided to increase understanding of the diverse and challenging circumstances that arise in this voluntary position.
We plan to recruit in Spring/Summer 2021 when the application process will be live. Please note that we shall not be accepting applications until the recruitment process is live. If you would like to see a sample of the application pack, please click here.
Please note that we shall not be accepting applications until the recruitment process is live.
For information on this, please keep checking our website, or email email@example.com
We can record your consent to contact you when the process is active. Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
You will need to demonstrate:
- An understanding of the role of an Independent custody visitor;
- Commitment to the role;
- Respect for and understanding of equality, diversity and human rights;
- Excellent communication skills;
If you are successful at interview, you will be asked to go through vetting in order for the relevant security checks to be carried out. You will be issued with an official identity card, which you must use when visiting.
Following clearance, you will be invited to attend an Induction day, organised by the coordinator of the scheme.
The training programme is made up of practical and theoretical exercises covering all aspects of custody visiting and is complemented by a set of guidelines and the basic principles of the PACE. Further training sessions will be arranged locally to keep you informed on new developments and to share experiences.
Once appointed, you will develop your experience as you visit. You will be accompanied each time you visit and receive support from the scheme manager and volunteer panel co-ordinator. When you have the necessary skills and knowledge, your probation will be reviewed, and your appointment confirmed for a set period. It is expected that you will carry out two visits per month, in addition to training and meetings. Further training will take place during your time as an ICV including mandatory equality, diversity and human rights training, which will include information regarding the general duty on public sector organisations and the Human Rights Legislation.
Other helpful information:
- Independent Custody Visiting Scheme Guideline
- Code of Practice on Independent Custody Visiting
- Independent Custody Visiting National Standards
- Introducing the UK's National Preventive Mechanism
Custody centres should be visited ideally once a week, in accordance with the ICV rota.
An ICV will be expected to undertake two visits per month. Visits can be at any time of the day or night and they can take anything from half an hour to a couple of hours depending on how many detainees wish to be seen and how busy the centre is.
It is the responsibility of the volunteer, in consultation with their visiting partner, to arrange a mutually convenient time to undertake a visit.
The visits should be random and unannounced but should ideally aim to ensure that a visit takes place over a wide selection of days and times throughout the month.
ICVs must maintain their independence and impartiality. They do not take sides but look, listen and report accurately on what they find in the custody centres. On arrival at the police station, the ICVs will be escorted to the custody centre. The detainees will be identified by their custody numbers only and strict rules of confidentiality apply.
Conversation with detainees will focus on whether or not they have been offered their rights and entitlements under PACE. Interviews with detainees are, for the ICV’s protection, normally carried out within sight, but out of hearing of the escorting officer. Immediate areas of concern will be raised by ICVs with the custody officer, at the time of the visit and any necessary action taken.
ICVs must treat the details of what they see and hear on their visit as confidential. They are expected to report in general terms to the OPCC at appropriate times. ICVs must also attend volunteer meetings, which provide an opportunity to resolve outstanding issues, share experience and best practice. These meetings will be held four times a year, usually on a Saturday.
You can find further information about ICVs through the below links:
- Independent Custody Visiting Association
- Home Office Code of Practice on Independent Custody Visiting