Review of the PFCC’s Volunteer Policies
- Report reference number:
- Not protectively marked
- Title of report:
- Review of the PFCC’s Volunteer Policies
- Area of county / stakeholders affected:
- Report by:
- Emma Goddard and Katarzyna Grabka
- Date of report:
- Enquiries to:
- [email protected] and [email protected]
1. Executive Summary
1.1 The purpose of this report is to seek the Commissioner’s approval of:
a. The PFCC Volunteer Policy, version 4.3
b. The Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy, version 5.0
2.1 The recommendation is that the Commissioner approves:
a. The PFCC Volunteer Policy, version 4.3 (Appendix A)
b. The Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy, version 5.0 (Appendix B
3. Background to the Proposal
3.1. The PFCC Volunteer Policy was first produced in 2019 to create a transparent and consistent approach to how the PFCC works with, manages, and supports volunteers. It ensures that volunteers understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the PFCC in return. It was reviewed in 2021 and has been reviewed again in 2023 in accordance with the PFCC’s Policy Review Plan.
3.2. The Independent Custody Visiting Policy first came into effect in November 2012 to provide guidance for those volunteering on behalf of the PFCC in the role of Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs). It provides a clear and consistent framework for the ICV Scheme and sets out its operating process, including how feedback is provided to Essex Police in relation to the findings from ICV visits. It was last reviewed in 2021 and has been reviewed again in 2023 in accordance with the PFCC’s Policy Review Plan.
3.3. Reviewing the two policies alongside one another has allowed aspects relating to all PFCC volunteers to be incorporated within the Volunteer Policy, and various previously separate documents relating to the ICV Scheme to be brought together within one Independent Custody Visiting Policy. Content of the previous Independent Custody Visiting Policy that described detailed visiting procedures has been moved out of the Policy and included instead within the detailed ICV Handbook that is issued to all ICVs as part of their indication training. This has also been reviewed alongside the two policies.
4. Proposal and Associated Benefits
4.1 The 2023 review of the policies and handbook has ensured that policies and operational procedures are consistent across the PFCC’s three volunteering schemes (the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme and the Animal Welfare Scheme). The Volunteer Policy
now covers all matters pertaining to all volunteers working on behalf of the PFCC, whilst the Independent Custody Visiting Policy sets out the overarching guiding principles of the ICV Scheme, and the Handbook describes the day-to-day work required from an ICV. Previously, there were a myriad of policies relating to the various volunteer schemes, some of which were inconsistent with each other, and it was often difficult to know where to find the information required. The consolidation of the policies into this small library will bring clarity and avoid confusion going forward.
4.4 The updated policies will be published on the PFCC’s website, supporting the Commissioner’s commitment to volunteers and the transparency of the provision for the public
5. Options Analysis
5.1 The PFCC could decide to reject the amendments and retain the current policies. This would mean the policies would be out of date and, on occasion, inconsistent. This would not be best practise therefore that option is not recommended.
5.2 The PFCC relies on volunteers to deliver services to a high standard. Without a review of the policies, they will not be fit for purpose and will not reflect current thinking or best practice, which might make it difficult to recruit, retain and support volunteers. There are also risks that we will not be following good
practice which could leave the PFCC open to reputational risk.
6. Consultation and Engagement
6.1 Scheme Managers and Coordinators worked with PFCC volunteers to produce some of the information that was contained in the initial versions of the PFCC Volunteer Policy and the Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy.
6.2 The PFCC and Chief Constable were consulted on the target number of Independent Custody Visits included within the Independent Custody Visiting Policy during their formal Performance Meeting on 17 April 2023.
7. Strategic Links
7.1 The ICV Scheme is a statutory responsibility of the PFCC. It also supports effective governance of Essex Police by providing independent checks on detainees and allows public transparency of that process.
7.2 All three volunteer schemes (the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, Independent Custody Visiting Scheme and Animal Welfare Scheme) form part of Police and Crime Plan 2021-2024 in which the Commissioner commits to encourage volunteers and community support by ‘investing in those who
volunteer for the roles embedded in the PFCC’s office including RJ volunteers, ICVs and Animal Welfare Dog Visitors to ensure they feel skilled, valued and appreciated’. The Police and Crime Plan 2021-2024 also describes the PFCC’s commitment to support our officers and staff ‘‘so that staff, volunteers, and
officers are recognised for the contribution they make to preventing crime and keeping our county safe.’’ The PFCC Volunteer Policy and the Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy set out how these commitments will be delivered in practice.
8. Police operational implications
8.1 There are no direct operational policing implications arising from this decision report, although the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme does provide a check on operational matters within the custody suites under the direction and control of the Chief Constable.
9. Financial implications
9.1 There are no direct financial implications arising from the approval of these documents, which will be delivered within existing resources.
10. Legal Implications
10.1 The PFCC has a statutory responsibility to deliver an Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) scheme. This is a volunteer-led service which is supported by these policies.
10.2 The Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy has been reviewed to ensure its compliance with the Home Office Code of Practice on Independent Custody Visiting (March 2013), the Independent Custody Visiting National Standards 2013 and the Independent Custody Visiting Association’s (ICVA’s) Quality
11. Staffing implications
11.1 This policy applies to volunteers who work on behalf of the PFCC in delivering the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, Independent Custody Visiting Scheme or Animal Welfare programmes. Both policies note that volunteers have no employment status except under health and safety legislation.
12. Equality and Diversity implications
12.1 The Equality Act 2010 obliges the PFCC to:
- Take steps to meet the needs of people with certain protected characteristics where these are different from the needs of other people, and
- Encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
12.2 The PFCC is mindful of reflecting our diverse community within our volunteer pool and committed to ensuring this by monitoring and recording self-reported diversity information of volunteers and acting to increase the diversity of our volunteers in line with the local profile.
13. Risks and Mitigations
13.1 There is a reputational risk associated with not approving an updated version of the PFCC Volunteer Policy and / or the Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy, which is set out in section 5 above.
14. Governance Boards
14.1 The updated PFCC Volunteer Policy and Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy have been discussed and approved in principle at the PFCC’s Senior Management Team (SMT) meeting on 28 September 2023.
15.Links to Future Plans
15.1 Approval of the updated policies will strengthen the evidence that is available for submission as part of the ICV Scheme’s application to retain its silver accreditation under the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance Framework (QAF). The PFCC is required to apply for reaccreditation by 30 September 2023.
16.Background Papers and Appendices
Appendix A. The PFCC Volunteer Policy (version 4.3)
Appendix B. The Essex Independent Custody Visiting Policy (version 5.0)
The report will be signed off by the OPFCC Chief Executive and Treasurer prior to
review and sign off by the PFCC / DPFCC.
- P Brent-Isherwood P Brent-Isherwood
- Date signed:
- Janet Perry Janet Perry
- Date signed:
- Chief Financial Officer
Decision and Final Sign Off
I agree the recommendations to this report:
- Jane Gardner Jane Gardner
- Date signed:
Wet signed copy is held at the PCC office.