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Independent custody visitors

Independent custody visitors (ICVs) are volunteers. Their role is to attend police stations to check on the treatment of detainees and the conditions in which they are held, and ensure that their rights are being observed. This protects both detainees and the custody staff, and provides reassurance to the community at large. The responsibility for organising and overseeing independent custody visiting lies with Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), in consultation with Chief Constable.

ICVs can visit police stations at any time and must be given immediate access to all custody areas, unless doing so would place them in danger. A custody officer can delay but not deny access.

During a visit, the ICV must be escorted and advised where appropriate of any specific health and safety risks they may encounter. They may have access to all parts of the custody suite. They may also, subject to the consent of the detainee, speak to them about their treatment.

The custody officer must ensure that the detainee is informed of the role of the ICV and is prepared to speak to them.  An explanation is available in written format and in various languages.

At the end of every visit, the ICV's will submit a report under the Custody Visiting Scheme. These reports are discussed during local meetings. They must also give regular feedback to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The purpose of the Custody Visiting Scheme is to enable members of the local community to observe, comment and report upon, the conditions under which persons are detained at police stations, and the operation in practice of the rules governing their welfare, with a view to securing greater public understanding of these matters.

These arrangements also provide an independent check on the way police officers carry out their duties with regard to detained persons. Under the scheme locally trained volunteers are appointed as independent custody visitors to one of the four independent custody visitor panels as listed below:

  • Kidderminster and Redditch Panel
  • Shropshire Panel
  • Worcester Panel
  • Herefordshire Panel            

Get involved  The Independent Custody Visiting Association