Behind the scenes with an Independent Custody Visitor
Volunteering as an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) in Essex means you can really make a difference to the criminal justice process.
Our team of 12 ICVs have helped to change legislation in respect of the rights and entitlements as well as the welfare and dignity of detainees. They monitor the standards of custody suites and safeguard the welfare of people detained within them. However, they do not become involved in the on-going investigation, which has resulted in the detention of someone.
Since the Police Reform Act 2002, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners have had a statutory duty to maintain an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme for their area.
Our volunteers have helped to improve:
- The dignity of women in custody by ensuring they are offered and have access to female hygiene packs if required. There was no standard practice and our ICVs raised the issue at a national level which was then taken on board by the Home Office
- The taste and nutritional value of the food on offer to detainees by taking part in taste tests with meal providers
By engaging with detainees, our volunteers can assist custody staff in identifying signs of vulnerability and help make the detainee’s stay as less distressing where possible.
Do want to find out more about Essex’s Independent Custody Visiting Scheme and volunteer for us? Watch our short film to see what the role involves https://youtu.be/Gc01huqcYck
The film follows Independent Custody Visitor Geoff Wright on a recent inspection of the suite at Southend Police Station.
Volunteers visit custody suites in pairs around three times a month and visits generally last no more than an hour. They complete a simple report to provide a current picture of the suite and any issues they might have identified relating to maintenance standards and the rights and welfare of detainees. The reports are reviewed and the results presented to the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
Last year our volunteers made nearly 250 visits to custody suites across the county. The custody suites are at Basildon, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Grays, Harlow, Stansted and Southend.
If you are interested in volunteering, you must be over 18 and independent of the criminal justice system to prevent possible conflicts of interest and to maintain the integrity of the scheme.
More information and details of how to apply are here: