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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 (14 cells), Euston Street (36 cells) and Keyham Lane (17 cells). ICVs speak with the detainees to ensure they are being treated fairly and correctly and also examine the conditions of the cells and custody suite as a whole. They bring any issues arising to the attention of the Detention Officer and then complete a reporting sheet which is sent to the Force and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
You can read more about the scheme in detail and how it fits into the PCC’s statutory duties in the Annual Report.
Who are Independent Custody Visitors?
Independent Custody Visitors are a team made up of volunteers from the local community. ICVs come from a variety of backgrounds and sections from the community and must be able to interact with others from a variety of different backgrounds. ICV’s must be over 18 but there is no upper age limit. For more information about the criteria and application process please see ‘Becoming an ICV’.
What happens on an Independent Custody Visit?
ICV’s arrive at the custody suite front desk unannounced- the custody suite staff are not to be informed prior to the start of the visit.
ICV’s show Identity cards and gain access to the Suite. Access should be immediate unless there is a health and safety reason preventing immediate access. The time of arrival and time of entry to the custody suite is recorded on the visit form.
The ICV’s record on the form the number of people in detention. The Detention Officer accompanies the ICV’s to each cell, but does not go into the cell. The ICV’s then self-introduce themselves and ask the detainee if they wish to speak with them. They record the yes or no on the visit form and then ask the detainee about their treatment so far and record the outcome of the conversation. ICVs also ask the detainee if they consent to them viewing the record kept on them since being detained in custody. After the ICV’s have seen the detainees they wish to see they then inspect other areas in the suite such as the kitchen and interview rooms (if not in use) and ensure they are clean, tidy and safe etc. The ICV’s then view any records they have received consent for and raise any issues with the custody suite staff.
The role of Independent custody visitor is voluntary and is open to anyone who meets the following criteria: are over 18; live or work within Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland; are able to visit the three suites in the Leicester Area; are able to communicate well with a diverse range of people; are able to work as part of a team; are flexible and reliable; are a good listener; are objective and non-judgemental; are able to maintain confidentiality; have no connection with the Criminal Justice System; have lived in the UK for at least 3 years.
We are committed to equal opportunities and encourage applications from all sections of the community irrespective of age, gender, ethnic group, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief/faith.
All potential ICVs are required to complete an application form which will be considered by an appointment panel. After the applications have been reviewed, shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend a formal Interview. Candidates who are successful at interview will be appointed subject to the receipt of satisfactory references and police vetting. Please be aware that vetting will require potential candidates to provide personal information, some information about family members and to disclose any criminal convictions. This is due to the position of trust volunteers will be placed in.
New ICVs will be comprehensively trained and supported by the team Co-Ordinator and deputies, 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. If you feel this is something you would like to become involved in please contact the OPCC at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0116 229 8980 for more information.
Training and Expenses
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 diversity awareness. There is also ongoing support from other ICVs and the Scheme administrators. The Scheme administrators are members of the OPCC who receive and process visit forms, deal with expenses and act as point of contact for the visitors. The ICV role is voluntary and unpaid role however ICVs are reimbursed for any expenses incurred for travel to and from training, meetings and custody visits.
The Annual Report
You can read the latest Annual Report. This report contains further information on the scheme as well as the latest visiting statistics and some of the issues raised throughout the year.
For more information please go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Please find below documentation in relation to the Custody Visiting Scheme:-
A short video from an Independent Custody Visitor.