Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are members of the public recruited by the Police and Crime Commissioner on a voluntary basis to visit police stations at random to check on the treatment of people held in police custody and to ensure that their rights and entitlements are upheld in accordance with the Police and Criminal Act 1984 (PACE).
The role of an Independent Custody Visitor is to look, ask questions, listen and report on their findings. The role includes speaking to detainees and checking areas of the custody unity such as the kitchen, exercise yards, stores and shower facilities. Any queries or actions requiring immediate attention are discussed on site with the custody staff.
With permission, Independent Custody Visitors also have access to detainees’ custody records to verify what they have seen and heard. In some circumstances, they also view CCTV footage. ICVs do not need to know why a person is being detained and they do not talk to those being held about alleged offences. They produce a report which is then forwarded to the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for analysis. Any serious areas for action that were not able to be addressed at the time of the visit are recorded and flagged to the custody Inspector or a more senior officer. If the Independent Custody Visitors are still not satisfied, they can take up the problems with the Commissioner or the Police Custody Chief Inspector at meetings held every two months.
Independent Custody Visitors come from a variety of backgrounds and are adults aged over 18. While no formal qualifications are required, listed below are some of the necessary skills and attributes. It is important that you:
- Are over 18 years old
- Live or work within Surrey Police’s jurisdiction
- Have been a resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to application
- Are not a serving police officer, magistrate, member of police staff or involved in the Criminal Justice Process
- Are willing to undergo security checks, including police vetting and references
- Have sufficient mobility, sight and hearing to undertake visits safely within a custody setting
- Have a good understanding of the English language
- Possess effective communication skills
- Have the ability to demonstrate an independent and impartial view in relation to all parties involved in the custody visiting process
- Have the ability to work with colleagues as part of a team
- Are respectful and understanding towards others
- Can maintain confidentiality
- Have the time and flexibility to conduct one visit per month
- Are IT literate and able to access email
Volunteers are expected to undertake a visit every 4-6 weeks, with visits lasting anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours. In addition to this, you will be expected to attend quarterly panel meetings as well as ad-hoc training.
If you have the capacity to volunteer a little of your time monthly for the benefit of your community, have a genuine interest in criminal justice and meet the criteria outlined above, we’d love to hear from you!