Martyn Underhill, APCC Mental Health and Custody Deputy Portfolio Lead and Dorset PCC said:
“This week is National Volunteers’ Week.
“I know, ANOTHER awareness week!
“But please, hear me out. This one is certainly worth your attention and I thought I would write a short blog explaining why.
“Volunteers, specifically those members of your community who take time out of their day to visit police custody suites unannounced, are an incredible asset and a credit to society.
“Each policing area has its own Independent Custody Visiting Scheme of volunteers from the local community. Organised and recruited by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), these volunteers are responsible for visiting police custody suites, unannounced, and are able to speak independently with detainees and check on their welfare.
“From my position as an elected representative of the local policing area and as National Lead for Custody, ICVs (Independent Custody Visitors) are a great source of information and assurance. They are the eyes and ears of the community and can identify areas of practice that require improvement and instances of positive action taken by police officers throughout the custody process.
“There are many examples of the great service that ICVs deliver, including recent changes announced by the Home Office around the treatment of female detainees in police custody. Without the dedicated approach of the hundreds of volunteers across the country, who successfully identified gaps in provision for female detainees, particularly around the availability of menstruation products, this change would never have happened. Now, police forces are required to provide free menstruation products for females in police custody as well as a host of other provisions (find out more here).
“It is not often we get time to take a step back and recognise the achievements we have made, but just last month the Independent Custody Visiting Association held a special awards ceremony with Lord Anderson of Ipswich KBE QC, to mark the incredible work of ICV schemes.
“So, in short, I wanted to say, ‘Thank you volunteers, your work is appreciated, invaluable and without you PCCs would not have the high levels of assurance in custody that you provide’ ”.
If you are interested in becoming an independent custody visitor please contact your local Police and Crime Commissioner for further details.”
View some short videos from the ICVA Quality Assurance Framework Awards Ceremony in the HoL.