Independent Custody Volunteers Catherine Broughton (left in pink jacket) and Rachel Nash (right in black top with clipboard) speak to a person in a green jumper who is in custody at the Criminal Justice Centre in Northampton

During Volunteers Week 2023, the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner would like to thank his team of 21 Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) and highlight their valuable work and the benefits of the scheme.

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.

As the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, Stephen Mold has a statutory duty to maintain an effective ICV scheme so that he can offer transparency and reassurance to the community that custody is being run as it should and that detainees are treated well.

PFCC Stephen Mold said: “We can only do this with the support of our wonderful volunteers. I rely on the group of ICVs 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 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.”

Between 1st April 2022 and 31st March 2023, 12,142 detainees were held in the custody centres in Northamptonshire; the Criminal Justice Centre (CJC) in Northampton (below) and the Weekley Woods Justice Centre (WWJC) in Kettering.

Northampton Criminal Justice Centre

During the 12-month period (April 2022 – March 2023), ICVs carried out 96 visits to custody and they volunteered a total of approximately 360 hours. They saw 340 detainees (268 spoken to and 72 observed). 86 per cent of detainees that were offered consented to speaking to an ICV and 14 per cent of detainees declined to talk.

PFCC Stephen Mold continued: “We always have a great deal of interest from people wanting to join the scheme and a very high standard of applications. We welcomed 13 new recruits in the last year who have been busy learning about the Custody process and the entitlements of people who have been arrested and detained there.

“The ongoing commitment of our volunteer ICVs is extremely admirable. It is important to capture the voice of detainees and I would like to thank the ICVs for achieving this through their hard work and dedication.”

ICV Volunteer, Rachel Nash, said: “My first visit to Custody as an ICV was fascinating. Seeing behind the scenes and understanding the process was really interesting. It is good to be able to explain to people what actually happens in Custody and dispel any myths about what goes on.”

ICV volunteer, Jenny Cotton, also said: “We received comprehensive training and I feel part of a supportive team. This is a worthwhile opportunity to contribute within a voluntary position.”

And ICV Volunteer, Trevor Conway, added: “The role is exactly how it sounded when I applied; interesting enjoyable and rewarding. I love it and feel it to be a valuable piece of the process.”

Independent Custody Volunteers Steve Edwards (left in red jumper) and Rachel Nash (right in black top) are shown walking down a wing in the Criminal Justice Centre in Northampton