Independent custody visiting is a vital part of the work of the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC), in ensuring the police service is open and accountable to the people it serves.
The vast majority of the public will never see the inside of a police cell. The facilities offered are basic and are designed to hold people securely and safely for a short time while an investigation takes place. For most people this is less than six hours. Custody visitors check on detained people to make sure that they have been offered their legal entitlements whilst also checking on their welfare.
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) make unannounced visits, in pairs at varying times of the day and night. They are entitled to visit anyone detained in police custody with the detainee’s consent. After each visit, they produce a written report on their findings.
It is the responsibility of the OPCC to recruit, train, manage and support all volunteers appointed to Gloucestershire’s Independent Custody Visiting Scheme (ICVS). It is administered by the ICV Coordinator, who reviews the reports and ensures that any outstanding matters are brought to the attention of the Chief Inspector for Custody. Significant issues arising out of custody visits are referred back to the OPCC.
Gloucestershire has one designated custody suite in Quedgeley, Gloucester. Stroud custody suite was de-designated from 1 April 2011 and is now only used as and when necessary. The new custody suite was built in Quedgeley alongside the Police Headquarters and was opened in 2015.