The inside of a police cell is surely the last place most people would want to find themselves – unless they happen to be an independent custody visitor.
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) have an important part to play in the justice system in checking the rights, health, wellbeing and treatment of those who are detained by the police.
ICVs make unannounced visits to check on the rights, entitlements, well-being and dignity of detainees held in police custody. After each visit, they file a written report with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on how the police are running custody and whether or not they need to make changes or be praised for best practice. It is then up to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to hold the Chief Constable to account.
And volunteers who fulfil the role in Gloucestershire are now officially among the best in the country.
The Gloucestershire Independent Custody Visitors’ Scheme struck Gold at this afternoon’s (Wednesday 15 May) inaugural Independent Custody Visiting Association Quality Assurance awards.
Richly deserved recognition for all their hard work
Manager Amanda Segelov, who collected the award at a ceremony at the House of Lords said: “We currently have 16 ICVs from the local community who come from a variety of backgrounds, ages and sectors. They are completely impartial and carry out unannounced visits at least once a fortnight.
“This award is richly deserved recognition for all their hard work and dedication in making sure people who find themselves in custody for whatever reason are kept safe and properly looked after”.
Gloucestershire’s PCC Martin Surl said, “People can find themselves in custody for a variety of reasons and not all of them are guilty of a crime. Making sure anyone deprived of their liberty, with or without charge, is treated with dignity and knows what they are entitled to is a fundamental right”.
ICVs ensure police custody is safe and dignified for all
The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) is the national organisation which supports, leads and represents locally-run custody visiting schemes. ICVA Chairman Martyn Underhill said, “These awards recognise the standards of schemes being run in local areas and helps drive up the standards of our schemes across the UK”.
Katie Kempen, Chief Executive at 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. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments.”