The Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) Scheme overseen by Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend has been recognised nationally this month, as it attained Platinum status for the quality of its work in Surrey.
Under the scheme, volunteers from the local community make unannounced visits to Surrey Police custody to check on the rights, wellbeing, and dignity of detainees.
In the year to March, Independent Custody Visiting Volunteers (ICVs) made 172 visits and spent over 400 hours in custody suites across Surrey.
By listening to individuals in custody, they provide valuable and independent oversight of the care that is provided when an individual is detained.
By shining a spotlight on the processes, people and environments within custody, their recommendations cover everything from ensuring that there are enough blankets in winter, to safeguarding someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Visits are held at all hours and the findings are reported back to the Commissioner and Surrey Police in a cycle that promotes continuous improvement.
The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) judges schemes every three years based on its quality assurance framework that assesses how well schemes comply with a Code of Practice for custody.
At an ICVA event Birmingham, Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson joined Surrey’s ICV Scheme Manager Erika Dallinger as she received the Platinum award that represents the highest level of accreditation possible for schemes across England and Wales.
While ‘Gold’ standard reflects a scheme that provides an excellent standard of custody visiting and volunteer management, the ‘Platinum’ award goes further to recognise those areas where the service is ‘outstanding’.
Welcoming the award, Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “I am incredibly proud of the hard work of our Independent Custody Visitors and of my ICV Scheme Manager in Surrey.
“The Scheme is essential in providing an independent eye on an area of policing that happens ‘behind the scenes’ but can be responsible for the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Together with custody staff, volunteers play an incredibly important part in maintaining the transparency and trust in policing that is so important to my office and Surrey Police.
“I’d like to congratulate them on this award that recognises their outstanding contribution.”
Dame Anne Owers, Chair of ICVA, said: “Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing. These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that police custody is safe and dignified for all.”
Learn more about the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme at https://www.surrey-pcc.gov.uk/performance/independent-custody-visiting/