Geraldine Newbrook (left) is pictured with Chris Philp MP (right), who is holding up a certificate acknowledging Geraldine for the many hours of volunteering she has put in over more than 35 years

A volunteer who has chalked up thousands of hours over more than 35 years to improve the welfare of detainees in custody has been acknowledged for her long service.

Geraldine Newbrook, an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) for the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, was named Runner-Up for Longevity in the Home Office’s Lord Ferrers Awards – which recognises volunteering in policing.

She was presented with her certificate by Chris Philp MP, Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, in a ceremony in London on October 12.

The ICV scheme allows for volunteers from the local community to check on the welfare of detainees who are held in police custody, to ensure they are receiving their rights and entitlements and that the conditions are satisfactory.

Geraldine has been volunteering in this sector for over 35 years, back when it was known as the Lay Visiting Scheme and had only just been implemented in order to build trust and confidence that detained people were being treated according to their rights and with dignity.

After seeing an article in the local newspaper, Geraldine held a conversation with a Commander at the police station at Campbell Square and went on to lead a team of volunteers.

Since then, she has volunteered thousands of hours, visited hundreds of detainees throughout the county and dealt with any concerns, undertaken and delivered training, supported the planning of new custody centres and has supported recruitment of new ICVs. She was also responsible for the implementation of picture cards for ICVs and detainees who may have difficulty understanding each other.

Geraldine said: “It’s not a nice experience for someone to be in custody, but I try to help make it as smooth as possible for them.

“Although we’re still very much independent, I feel like we’ve gained the respect of the people who work in custody over the years, and I respect the difficult job they do. They also know that if we find an issue we will raise it with them so it can be dealt with.

“It’s fantastic to see the scheme still working all these years later, and of course I find it very rewarding – I’ve never thought of stopping.”

Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, said: “It’s vital that people have trust and confidence that those who are detained in our custody centres are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“This happens thanks to the support of our fantastic ICV volunteers who provide independent scrutiny and can offer feedback on how we can improve things.

“To volunteer for more than 35 years is a tremendous achievement by Geraldine and we are so grateful for the countless hours she has put aside, and she has no doubt improved the experience for hundreds of people over those years. Her award is well deserved and we thank her for her incredible contribution.”