The Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office has been recognised nationally for the very high quality of its independent custody visiting scheme.
Under the scheme, trained volunteers from the local community (Independent Custody Visitors or ICVs) make regular unannounced visits to Police custody suites to check on the rights, entitlements, wellbeing and dignity of the detainees held there. Their findings are reported to the Police and Crime Commissioners who hold Chief Constables to account.
The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) – the national membership organisation that supports, leads and represents these schemes – has developed a quality assurance framework to assess how well schemes comply with the code of practice that governs custody visiting.
This is the second year that schemes have been assessed under the framework, and have been able to gain quality assurance awards to recognise the value of their work. The Staffordshire scheme was presented with a Gold quality assurance award by ICVA on Wednesday 29 November, at a ceremony in Birmingham.
Welcoming the award, Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime Ben Adams said: “I’m delighted that the work of the Independent Custody Visitors scheme here in Staffordshire has been recognised with a national Gold award, and would like to thank all of our volunteers for their contribution in making the scheme so successful.
“Our ICV volunteers play an important role in ensuring detainees’ rights and wellbeing are maintained during what can be a very frightening time, especially for first offenders. Through their regular inspections, our volunteers also provide confidence to the public about the quality and safety of custody sites.”
Dame Anne Owers, Chair of ICVA, said: “Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing. These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that Police custody is safe and dignified for all.”
Sherry Ralph, Chief Executive at ICVA said: “The quality assurance framework represents a significant amount of additional work to ensure that independent custody visiting is regularly reviewed, improvements are made where they are needed and excellent practice is shared. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment.”