Connecting the Community

Volunteers sought to check on welfare of people in custody

Volunteers sought to check on welfare of people in custody

The scheme, which is a statutory requirement, allows volunteers from the local community to visit custody centres to observe and report on the welfare of detainees, to check that they are receiving their rights and entitlements and that the conditions they are being held in are satisfactory.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) visit the Criminal Justice Centre in Northampton or the Weekley Woods Justice Centre in Kettering, in pairs. They arrive unannounced and are escorted by a custody member of staff who enables them to speak to detainees in their cells. Any issues raised are reported to the Custody Inspector and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: "It is an important part of our work to provide independent scrutiny so that communities have confidence in their local police service. The scheme offers mutual protection to detainees and the police, and reassurance to the community.

"We rely on volunteers for the ICV scheme to run effectively, and I am grateful to those that have continued to provide community oversight and check on the welfare of detainees through the challenges of the pandemic these past two years."

Like many during the pandemic, ICVs turned to remote methods to carry out their role. In the period since they began remote visits in June 2020 they have spoken with 246 detainees, placing an additional focus on access to safeguards including Appropriate Adults and Solicitors as well as hygiene measures. The team of volunteers are pleased to have now returned to physical visits to speak with detainees again in person.

Anyone interested in joining the scheme must live or work in Northamptonshire and be aged 18 or above. A training programme is provided and regular meetings are held so that ICVs get the opportunity to talk about any issues or concerns.

With ethnic minority groups currently underrepresented, the scheme is keen to improve the diversity of the group of ICVs to better support the Force's learning and to also share the reality of how people are treated in custody with their communities.

It is essential that applicants can be impartial, objective and non-judgemental, as well as being able to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.

Ellen, who has been an ICV for about five years, explains more about the role: "I visit custody once a month and visits usually take around an hour. I really enjoy it.

"We talk to the detainees, asking them if they have been given and understood their rights, whether they have medication needs or need to see a doctor, check whether specific requirements have been met for vulnerable detainees, females and juveniles, and we check that people are happy with the way they have been looked after.

"I would most definitely encourage anyone to become an ICV. It's a rewarding feeling that we have given some support and help when people can be feeling at their most vulnerable".

Custody Inspector Vitty Andreoli-Tear said: "We welcome ICVs into custody to help us to continue to develop and improve the service we provide to those arrested."

For more information and details to apply, please visit
www.northantspfcc.org.uk/get-involved/independent-custody-visiting

The deadline for applications is 11th May 2022.

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Posted: Tue, 26 Apr 2022 11:13 by Parish Office

Tags: Northamptonshire Police, Northants OPFCC