• The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is looking for volunteers to be Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs)
  • Volunteers receive training in order to visit detainees in custody and check on their general welfare
  • ICVs report their findings directly to the OPCC so that the Police and Crime Commissioner can hold the Constabulary to account if necessary
  • The deadline for applications is 19th June 2023

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are members of the public who give up their time to make unannounced visits to police custody suites.

They independently deliver checks on detainees to see if they have been treated fairly, with dignity and are held in conditions that are safe – and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is on the lookout for more.

People like Sarah Spencer and Ismail Ginwalla who, between them, have been volunteer ICVs in Gloucestershire for more than a decade. Sarah said, “For me it’s a worthwhile thing to do. Checking that people are having their needs met and their rights upheld, because we have to remember that anybody in detention hasn’t been charged at that point.

“I actually came across it, purely by accident, 10 years ago. My day job is working with some quite vulnerable people, so I thought it sounded an interesting job to do. A chance to incorporate the skills that I’ve got, into this role”.

Ismail got involved when he found out there were no other volunteers from ethnic minority communities. “I got my application in because I thought that the people coming through the custody suite would be from a wide range and backgrounds, and it would be good for somebody from another ethnic background to be a custody visitor.

“I have found that there’s a lot of passion with colleagues who do this role. There’s a lot of time and commitment because you know you are fulfilling a very important duty in the legal process, in the system that we have in this country”.

ICVs in Gloucestershire have delivered over 27 visits to police custody suites visiting a total of 127 detainees in the past year alone. Nationally, the figures rise to over 12,000 hours and 6,000 visits on behalf of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).

ICV scheme manager, Annabelle White said: “Independent Custody Visitors play a very important role in assisting the Police and Crime Commissioner as he holds the Constabulary to account. We provide full training, support and mentors to new volunteers involved in the scheme.

“ICVs have access to all parts of the custody facility and ensure detainees have been offered their rights and entitlements, as well as checking on their health and wellbeing.

“After each visit, they complete a report which is sent to our office, allowing the PCC to follow up any issues directly with the Constabulary”.

There are currently 18 ICVs in the county who visit cells around every 12 days. They attend as a pair and their visits are random and unannounced.

To become a visitor you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Must be over 18
  • Have a good understanding of the English language
  • Happy to work as a volunteer, only receiving out-of-pocket expenses related to the role
  • Must not be Justices of the Peace (JPs), serving police officers or civilian employees; members of staff from OPCCs or special constables
  • Applications are checked for any other conflicts of interest for people working in other areas of the criminal justice system, such as solicitors or probation service

If you’re interested, e-mail annabelle.white@gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk to register your interest.