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Independent custody visiting

What is independent custody visiting?

Independent Custody Visiting was made a statutory requirement on police authorities under the Police Reform Act 2002 (Paragraph 51) and for elected Police & Crime Commissioners in the Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act (Schedule 16, Part 3, Section 299).

Independent Custody Visitors are volunteers recruited and trained locally to make unannounced visits to police custody suites in their police service area to check on the welfare of people detained in custody and the conditions in which they are being held.  Visits are made by pairs of volunteers but can only be carried out with the consent of detainees. After training, custody visitors will know what to ask, what to look for and what may be done.  They must be impartial and favour neither the police nor the detainee.  On completion of their visit a report form is completed and passed to all stakeholders involved in the Scheme.

Who are independent custody visitors?

Volunteers are drawn from a variety of backgrounds and sections of the community.  They must be over 18 (there is no upper age limit) and have no direct involvement in the Criminal Justice system, for example, as serving police officers or special constables.  Other people such as solicitors or probation officers may be excluded, to prevent possible conflict of interests arising.  This helps to maintain the independence of the Scheme as a whole.

How are independent custody visitors selected and trained?

Applicants are required to complete an application form, which will be considered by an Appointments Panel.  Shortlisted candidates are asked to attend a formal interview.  Appointments will be confirmed subject to the receipt of satisfactory references; police vetting checks to verify information provided about criminal convictions; and the successful completion of a one-day Initial Training and Awareness course.  Appointments are initially for three years, and will be confirmed following satisfactory completion of a six month probationary period.  A full re-assessment of continuing suitability will take place every 3 years.

Eligibility criteria for becoming an independent custody visitor

Age

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age (there is no upper age limit) and be living or working within Lincolnshire and been resident in the UK for at least 2 years prior to the date of application.

Convictions

Persons who have either spent/unspent convictions for criminal offences may not be suitable. Relevant factors include the nature and number of any offences and how long ago they were committed. However, past offending is not an automatic barrier to acceptance as a visitor and each case is considered individually.

Criminal records checks will be carried out on successful applicants to confirm the information on their application form is correct.

Other Exclusions

  • It is important to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Officers/employees of the PCC/Force (including Special Constables and Police Community Support Officers) and Justices of the Peace, who have served within the last five years, will not be considered for participation in the scheme.
  • Applications from others involved with the criminal justice system will be considered on an individual basis. For example, solicitors and members of the probation service may find the duties of a visitor conflicting with their professional responsibilities. However, there is no hard and fast rule in such cases and each application will be looked at on its individual merits, having regard to the public service principle of being seen to be independent and impartial.
  • Candidates must be sufficiently mobile. The application form requests details of any disability and/or medical condition that could affect a candidate’s ability to undertake custody visits

Expenses

Volunteers can claim a mileage allowance for travelling to and from home to police custody suites.  Actual receipted travelling expenses such as bus fares will also be reimbursed.

Vacancies

There are currently no vacancies on our visiting Panels.

More information

Read the Code of Practice on Independent Custody Visiting on the gov.uk website

Read the independent custody visiting national standards on the ICVA website

Independent Custody Visiting Association
www.icva.org.uk

Independent custody visiting scheme

View our scheme for independent custody visiting to police custody suites in Lincolnshire

Independent custody visiting scheme.pdf 282.3KB