Independent Custody Visitors needed in Bridgwater
Are you interested in what goes on behind the scenes in police custody? If so, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens wants local people to become Independent Custody Visitor Volunteers.
Independent Custody Visiting is an important part of the Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and we are looking for people from Bridgwater and the surrounding area to join the team.
As an Independent Custody Visitor you will be responsible for visiting Bridgwater Police Centre Custody Unit unannounced, checking on the welfare of those in police custody by talking to detained people and possibly viewing computerised records and CCTV, to ensure detainees rights and entitlements are being observed. Custody Visitors will always visit custody in pairs.
Independent Custody Visitor, Steve Manuel, said: “I’m a new Independent Custody Visitor, but have already had opportunities which have been interesting and challenging. Visiting people detained in Police Custody to check and report on their welfare and well-being can be rewarding, especially if you contribute to their experience being a more positive one.
We work in pairs and as a team, so you are always well supported. We try to undertake our role creatively when possible, so have continued by making telephone calls to people in custody, rather than visits, during the period of lockdown.
I’m proud and privileged to be an Independent Custody Visitor, as our role can be an important one in making a difference to people in vulnerable situations who are in need of support”.
If the Custody Visitors find any concerns or detainees state any issues, these are raised initially with the Officer in charge of the custody cells with the aim of resolving them as soon as possible. The Custody Visitor completes an electronic report of each visit and this is received by the OPCC. The OPCC will check any issues raised by the Custody Visitor and may seek further information and seek assurances that further action may be taken.
At quarterly meetings Custody Visitors get to feedback about issues raised, as well as receive an update from a Custody Inspector, the Custody Visitor Coordinator and the OPCC. Religious material, foreign language translators and metal detection checks have been recent issues raised from observations made on recent visits.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “This is a great opportunity for someone who is looking for an exciting and rewarding local volunteering role in Bridgwater. We want to ensure the policing service is open and accountable to the people it serves.
By gaining independent insight into police custody and reporting your findings, we can ensure policing is transparent and that local people have confidence in their police service. Do something different and become a Custody Visiting Volunteer”.
Volunteers Management and Policy Officer, Kathryn Palmer, added: “Training will be provided to new Independent Custody Visitors and introductions to the Panel Coordinator, Custody Inspector and other ICV members. Part of the initial training includes a tour of the Custody Unit by a Custody Officer, shadowing experienced Custody Visitors and a day’s training. There are also regular updates and refresher training sessions at each quarterly meeting as well as discussions at conferences”.
If you are 18 and above, live or work in Avon and Somerset Constabulary area, have not had any direct involvement in the criminal justice system and could carry out the role of a custody visitor independently with an objective point of view, then we want to hear from you.
Independent Custody Visitors are expected to attend one visit a month and four meetings a year. Travel expenses are paid and training is provided.
Want to apply to be an ICV?
The next step is for you to check that you are eligible to apply and that the role of an ICV suits you by reading the following documents:
If you decide that the volunteer role and the responsibilities of an ICV is still of interest to you, this is great news.
Please note, the role is for a 3 year commitment for the first term. The Custody visiting rota for paired ICV covers a three month timeframe, with weekly visits at any day and time.
Please complete the following forms and return them to Kathryn in the PCC’s office by Monday 7th September.