Independent custody visitors
The independent custody visiting (ICV) scheme ensures that Greater Manchester Police custody facilities are independently checked and monitored by volunteers. This scheme is overseen in Greater Manchester by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, specifically the Deputy Mayor for Police, Crime, Fire and Criminal Justice, Beverley Hughes.
Independent custody visitors (ICVs) are members of the local community who volunteer to visit police stations unannounced to check on the welfare and wellbeing of people held in police custody. They look at a number of issues, from the treatment of detainees and behaviour of custody staff, to the effectiveness of custody processes. Independent custody visitor (ICV) recommendations can require the police to make improvements for the welfare of detainees and, therefore, they play a valuable role in maintaining public confidence in this important area of policing.
There are twenty-two ICVs in Greater Manchester, and every custody suite in the area is visited once a week. ICVs also inspect police custody facilities at Manchester Airport once a month.
Deputy Mayor Beverley Hughes said:
“Independent custody visitors play a vital role in providing the public with confidence that police treat individuals lawfully and with respect when detained in police custody. ICVs act as ‘critical friends’ and provide invaluable feedback on the wellbeing of detainees from an independent, impartial and non-discriminatory view of all parties involved in the custody visiting process.
Appropriate adults also have an important role to play in the custody environment by ensuring that the detained person whom they are assisting understands what is happening to them and why.
The Volunteer Activity Report 2017/2018 demonstrates the amount of valuable time that the volunteers gave to their role and the high amount of detainees that they were able to assist and check on their welfare. I am extremely proud of our GMCA volunteers and praise their professionalism and commitment to these vital roles.”
Once a week two ICVs attend a police station unannounced to make an inspection and speak to detainees. On arrival at the police station, visitors are escorted to the custody area where they interview a number of detainees in their cells and complete a structured report form.
For visitors’ protection interviews are normally carried out within sight, but out of hearing, of the escorting police officer.
Strict rules of confidentiality apply. Detainees are identified only by their custody numbers, and the details of what visitors see and hear must also be treated as confidential. It is equally important that independent custody visitors maintain their independence and impartiality and do not become involved or take sides. They are there to look, listen and report on conditions in the custody facility.
The visit report form completed after each visit provides an insight into the running of the custody facility, and the conditions under which the detainees there at the time are being held, including the provision of their rights and entitlements. Copies of the reports are provided for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the police for discussion and follow-up.
ICV’s are required to attend 7 mandatory training sessions to fulfill their role. Further optional training sessions are offered, for example on topics including substance misuse, mental health, interview skills, and dementia.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority is responsible for recruiting, selecting and appointing all custody visitors.
To be eligible as an ICV volunteer, you must be 18 years of age, or older, and have no direct involvement in the criminal justice system. For example, serving or retired police officers or staff, special constables or magistrates would not be considered for the role. Other people, such as solicitors or probation officers may also be excluded to prevent possible conflict of interests for the individual. This maintains the independence of the scheme as a whole.
Appointment as an independent custody visitor is subject to a successful application and interview process.
Be part of the team and join our army of extraordinary volunteers who carry out an important role visiting police custody suites and speaking to detainees across Greater Manchester to ensure they receive fair and equal treatment under the law.
To apply for the role of Independent Custody Visitor, please complete the application form available to download from the bottom of this page, and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also post completed forms to: Independent Custody Volunteers Coordinator, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EU