Independent Custody Visiting

Independent Custody Visiting

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) carry out unannounced visits to police custody suites to check on the welfare and fair treatment of individuals detained by Surrey Police. They also check the conditions of custody to help enhance the safety and effectiveness of custody for everyone.

Independent Custody Visiting was introduced in England as a result of the recommendations from the Scarman Report into the 1981 Brixton riots, that aimed to improve equality and trust in policing.

Managing a Custody Visiting scheme is one of the statutory duties of your Commissioner as part of the scrutiny of Surrey Police performance. Reports by volunteer Custody Visitors completed after each visit are provided to both Surrey Police and our ICV Scheme Manager, who work together to address any concerns and improve processes. The Commissioner is kept regularly updated on the ICV Scheme as part of their role.

How does the scheme work?

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. ICVs do not need to know why a person is being detained. 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.

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.

You can learn more about the responsibilities of our Independent Custody Visitors by taking a look at our Independent Custody Visiting Scheme Handbook.

Independent Custody Visiting

Get involved

Do you have the capacity to volunteer a little of your time each month for the benefit of your community? If you have a genuine interest in criminal justice and meet the criteria outlined below, we’d love to hear from you!

Independent Custody Visitors come from a variety of backgrounds. You do not need any formal qualifications but will benefit from regular training. We invite applications from individuals who are:

  • Over 18 years old and live or work in Surrey
  • 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 to custody safely
  • 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 criminal justice 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


Apply to become an Independent Custody Visitor in Surrey.

ICV Scheme Annual Report

Read our latest annual report on the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme in Surrey.

ICV Scheme Code of Practise

Read the Home Office’s Code of Practise for the Independent Custody Visiting.

Custody Inspection Report

Read the latest Custody Inspection report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

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