The Northamptonshire OPFCC has been recognised nationally for the high quality of its independent custody visiting scheme.

Under this 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 holds 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 Northamptonshire scheme was presented with a Silver quality assurance award by ICVA on Wednesday 29 November, at a ceremony in Birmingham.

Welcoming the award, Stephen Mold, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, said; “Independent Custody Visitors are of huge value to my work and help to build trust and confidence in local policing. ICVs visit the custody suite to check on the welfare and wellbeing of detainees and ensure that everybody, regardless of who they are and what they have been detained for, is treated with dignity and respect.

“This award is recognition of the hard work and commitment of all our volunteers, and I would like to personally thank them for giving up their valuable time to ensure detained people receive the support they need whilst in custody.”

Alexa Daly manages the scheme in the OPFCC and attended the ceremony to collect the award. She said: “It has been a really useful exercise to review our local practices for our Independent Custody Visiting Scheme.

“Checking against criteria has enabled us to reflect on how well we comply with the legislation that underpins custody visiting and the good practice we endorse, providing that extra bit of confidence that we are maintaining an effective scheme here in Northamptonshire.”

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.”