New Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) during a training session

A group of new volunteers is helping the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) to ensure the rights, welfare and dignity of people held in police custody is being maintained.

The 13 newcomers have joined an existing group of volunteers as part of the Northamptonshire Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, which enables the PFCC to hold the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public.

Northamptonshire PFCC, Stephen Mold has a statutory duty to allow volunteers from the local community to observe, comment and report on the welfare of detainees and the conditions they are being held in. The ICV scheme offers mutual protection to detainees and the police, and reassurance to the community.

The Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) visit people held in the two custody suites in Northamptonshire – the Criminal Justice Centre and the Weekley Woods Justice Centre custody – to check on their welfare and that they are receiving their rights and entitlements. ICVs always visit in pairs, and they visit each Custody Centre at least once a week.

Stephen said: “We had a great deal of interest from people wanting to join the scheme and a very high standard of applications. I’m really pleased to welcome the new recruits, who have been busy learning about the Custody process and the entitlements of people who have been arrested and detained there.

The new Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are shown around one of the custody centres in Northamptonshire

“The scheme provides independent scrutiny and ensures the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing. We can use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure police custody is safe and dignified for all.”

There are now 26 ICV volunteers in the Northamptonshire scheme. Prior to recruiting the new ICVs, the smaller group of 13 carried out 85 independent custody visits in the last 12 months (Nov 2021 – Nov 2022) and saw 286 detainees. 144 detainees were not available to receive a visit due to reasons such as having interviews, showing violent behaviour or visiting their solicitors. And 25 refused a visit when offered. Of the detainees available to receive a visit, 90% were seen. No serious issues were raised during the visits.

PFCC Stephen Mold said: “The ongoing commitment of the volunteer Independent Custody Visitors to capture the voice of detainees is admirable, and I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.”

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.”

For more information about the ICV scheme please click here.