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 here: Independent Custody Visitor Blog.
If you feel this is something you would like to become involved in please contact the office, either by email (OPCC@leics.police.uk) 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:
Please find below the ICV Annual Reports which are available to download: