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Custody Visiting Volunteer closes last custody suite door after nine years' service


Gordon Czapiewski with a certificate commending him for his service

Long serving Independent Custody Visiting Volunteer Gordon Czapiewski has closed his last custody suite door, as he retires from the Avon and Somerset Custody Visiting Scheme after nine years’ service.

Independent custody visiting is a vital part of the work of the Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Gordon is one of the longest serving Custody Visiting Volunteers in the schemes history.

Custody visiting is the well-established system whereby volunteers visit police stations to check on people in police custody; the conditions in which they are held and that their rights and entitlements are being observed.

Speaking about the role, Gordon said: “We are here to reassure the public we are independent from the police and we represent all local people. While the Constabulary grant us access to custody and support us in what we do, the work we do is independent of the Constabulary and must remain so. Things have improved since custody visiting was introduced but that’s no reason to be complacent.

“The most rewarding aspect of my time in custody visiting was when we were able to get the balance right between monitoring custody and the safety of people in detention whilst maintaining a good, appropriate, relationship with the custody staff, a difficult line to follow."

Custody Visiting Officer Anna Hill said: “I’d like to thank Gordon for his outstanding dedication and commitment as an Independent Custody Visiting Volunteer.  Over the past nine years, I’ve no doubt that Gordon has personally really made a real difference to custody conditions and I wish him well for the future.”

Visits to police stations by volunteer custody visitors are unannounced and can be made at any time. The independent volunteers check that cells and other facilities within custody such as the toilets and food preparation areas are clean and that all stores are well stocked. 

If the custody visitors find any issues, these are raised with the office in charge of the custody cells or police station.  The custody visitor completes a report of each visit and copies of these reports are sent to the PCC.

Gordon continued: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a robust Independent Custody Visiting scheme and most recently leading the Yeovil panel again. I wish the scheme and all the visitors all the very best for the future.”

To find out more about the Avon and Somerset Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, please click here.

Posted on Thursday 29th September 2016
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