If your friend or relative was taken into police custody wouldn’t you want to know that they were being treated with respect and dignity?
I know that I would, and that's exactly why I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do something about it. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe in our justice and legal system, warts and all. I much prefer to live in a community where there are checks and balances, than live in a lawless society where no one is held to account or challenged for their unacceptable behaviour/activity - even the police.
I was blissfully unaware, as maybe some of you are, just what our Police and Crime Commissioner’s office is doing, in order to achieve the fair and acceptable treatment of those taken in to police custody. It was a pleasant surprise to learn, that there is a whole group of volunteers giving up their free time at least twice a month each, to check on our custody detainees. Of which I am happy to share, I am now one of them.
Paddy Tipping has said:
“ICVs perform a really important role. They provide independent reassurance that Nottinghamshire’s custody facilities and the detainees meet the highest quality and welfare standards. ICVs make a valuable contribution to policing and are among a whole army of public volunteers who donate their time willingly to help us deliver a better policing service.”
Independent Custody Visitors are members of the local community who check on the welfare of people in police custody, by visiting custody suites unannounced. Each volunteer goes through a specific recruitment process and thorough training programme and are fully supported in their role every step of the way. The ongoing training and support that I have received is absolute testament, that this is not just a paperwork exercise. It is a valuable and needed public service.
The purpose of custody visiting is to provide an independent oversight of the detention of people held in police custody, by enabling members of the local community to observe, comment and report on the conditions under which persons are detained at police Custody Suites, with a view to securing greater public understanding and confidence in the way police officers carry out their duties with regard to detained persons.
Visits are made in pairs and to ensure the visits are carried out in an impartial and unbiased way, Independent Custody Visitors do not know who they are visiting or why they are there.
Representing various backgrounds and sections of the community, Independent Custody Visitors must be over 18 and have no direct involvement in the Criminal Justice System.
The role of the Independent Custody Visitor is purely voluntary but reimbursement of out of pocket expenses is provided.
They actively seek to recruit people who are under-represented and value equality and diversity in this volunteer workforce.
The responsibility for custody visiting arrangements lies with each Police and Crime Commissioner in consultation with the Chief Constable. Each Police and Crime Commissioner operates its own scheme according to local arrangements.
The Nottinghamshire Independent Custody Visitors make unannounced visits to the 2 custody suites in Nottinghamshire. The Bridewell, which is the largest and is in the City Centre and Mansfield. The Independent Custody Visiting Scheme are expected to make a minimum of 2 custody visits a month in accordance with a monthly rota.
Wouldn’t you want someone to check on you?