Call for volunteers to join our Independent Custody Visiting Scheme
Are you interested in the criminal justice process and want to make a real difference in your community?
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex is looking for more volunteers to join his Independent Custody Visiting Scheme across Essex.
Full training is given, volunteers are supported but must be able to commit to making a minimum of three visits per month.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Volunteering as an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) in Essex means you can really make a difference to the criminal justice process.
“Our team of ICVs have helped to change legislation in respect of the rights and entitlements of detainees, as well as their welfare and dignity. They monitor the standards of custody suites and safeguard the welfare of people detained within them.”
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.
Since then, the Commissioner’s 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 Essex 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.
Roger added: “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.”
Volunteers visit custody suites in pairs at least 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 any issues identified are addressed with the Custody Command at Essex Police. The reports also support the identification of any themes and trends reported to the Independent Custody Visitor Association (ICVA).
Despite the challenges of COVID, this year, volunteers made more than 350 visits to custody suites across the county. The custody suites are at Basildon, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Grays, Harlow and Southend.
Volunteers 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 to become an ICV are here: