Independent custody visiting and appropriate adult volunteers from across Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire police force areas joined Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens at her annual Independent Custody Visiting Conference.
Mental health was the overarching theme of the day at the conference, which took place at Police Headquarters on Saturday May 14, and saw attendees learn more about the Section 136 arrest process as well as discussing healthcare in custody.
Throughout the day attendees also heard from the PCC about her vision for the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, from Chief Constable Andy Marsh who closed the conference and from members of the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust about the Court Assessment Referral Service.
Speaking at the conference, PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “Both the Avon and Somerset Independent Custody Visiting and the Appropriate Adults scheme play a vital part in ensuring that local people can feel reassured that those held in police custody are being treated appropriately and fairly.
“The safety and appropriate treatment of detainees being held in police custody is extremely important to me. When someone is brought into custody, they have not yet been found guilty and so it is our duty as human beings to treat our fellow man with dignity and respect.”
The PCC ended her opening speech by thanking the volunteers for all that they do and highlighting how they ‘give up their precious time to serve their communities and ensure that the process of detention in custody is transparent’.
Talking about mental health was most timely as the conference comes just a few days ahead of the beginning of Mental Health Week 2016, so the PCC took the opportunity to share her wider commitment to supporting people in mental health crisis who are detained in police custody.
The PCC is also using the national awareness week to highlight the importance of ‘Appropriate Adults’ in supporting vulnerable individuals in custody. Appropriate adults safeguard the welfare and rights of children and vulnerable adults detained or interviewed by the police. To find out more about the role of an appropriate adult visit www.appropriateadult.org.uk.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Avon and Somerset Independent Custody Visiting Scheme or hearing what it’s like to be an Appropriate Adult from an Avon and Somerset Appropriate Adult Volunteer visit www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk
Posted on Monday 16th May 2016