Volunteers sought to check on welfare of people in custody in Northamptonshire
Published On: February 13, 2023
The Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is looking for volunteers to join the Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) scheme in the North of the county.
The successful applicants will visit the Weekley Woods Justice Centre in Kettering once a month to observe and report on the welfare of detainees, to check that they are receiving their rights and entitlements and that the conditions they are being held in are satisfactory.
The ICV scheme enables people from the local community to visit custody centres unannounced and speak to detainees in the cells. Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) always visit in pairs and are escorted by a member of staff around the custody centre. Any issues raised are reported to the Custody Inspector and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC).
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I have a statutory duty to maintain an independent oversight of police custody, to enable me to hold the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public.
“It is an important part of our work to provide independent scrutiny so that communities have confidence in their local police service. The scheme offers mutual protection to detainees and the police, and reassurance to the community.
“We rely on volunteers for the ICV scheme to run effectively, and we recruited a group of new ICV volunteers last year who are really enjoying the role but we currently have vacancies on the Kettering panel.”
Anyone interested in joining the scheme must live or work in Northamptonshire and be aged 18 or above. It is essential that applicants can be impartial, objective and non-judgemental, as well as being able to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
With ethnic minority groups currently underrepresented, the scheme is keen to improve the diversity of the group of ICVs, to better support the Force’s learning and to also share the reality of how people are treated in custody with their communities.
A training programme is provided and regular meetings are held so that ICVs get the opportunity to talk about any issues or concerns.
New ICV volunteer Jenny Cotton said: “We received comprehensive training and I feel part of a supportive team. This is a worthwhile opportunity to contribute within a voluntary position.”
New ICV Debbie Reeve added: “I’m new to custody visiting but I can observe first-hand the improvements in conditions and treatment of detainees whilst in custody. I have spoken in the past to adults and juveniles about their experiences years ago – very different to now! Both Police and Civilian staff are respectful towards detainees and us as visitors.”
Another new ICV, Rachel Nash, said: “I wanted to become an ICV because I thought people in Custody might relate to me – I consider myself as alternative and have tattoos and I have been a Mental Health Act Manager (voluntary) for 18 years.
“I found the training very helpful, and the first visit to Custody was fascinating. Seeing behind the scenes and understanding the process was really interesting. I think it will also be good to be able to explain to people what actually happens in Custody and dispel any myths about what goes on.”
New ICV Trevor Conway said: “I first saw the ICV role advertised on Facebook and read up about what it is, it sounded interesting to me and I enjoy keeping busy so applied. I have enjoyed seeing how everything operates since completing the training. It’s exactly how it sounded; interesting, enjoyable and rewarding. I love it and feel it to be a valuable piece of the process.”
For more information about the ICV scheme, and to complete an application form please click here.
The deadline for applications is Monday 6th March 2023.
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