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Visitng police custody

We are currently looking for people from Keynsham and the surrounding area to become Inpendent Custody Visitors. To apply for this volunteering role, email: pcc@avonandsomerset.pnn.police.uk

It is important that Independent Custody Visitors remain impartial. They must not take sides, but look, listen and report on what they observe in the custody unit.

New custody visitors have a thorough induction programme to support them in their new role. Initial training (a Saturday session) covers the background, theory, relevant procedures and talks through the visit step by step. 

Diversity training (one evening session) is also provided helps us look at the issues people in custody may have, such as those relating to disability, mental health or those who need help to communicate. We also explore different religions and cultures.  As well as these sessions, new volunteers gain practical experience through induction and shadowing visits in the custody unit with an experienced visitor to support them in their new role.

Additional training workshops will be available throughout the year on subjects such as terrorism and extremism, viewing custody records and how the ICV role relates to the work of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and HMIC/P Inspections. An annual conference is also held, with themed guest speakers and a number of activities and attending by the PCC and the Chief Constable.

At the police station, custody visitors turn up unannounced and are granted immediate access into custody. They show their I.D cards and are escorted around the custody unit. The detainees are only identified by their custody numbers and strict rules of confidentiality apply. Custody visitors must be admitted to the custody area immediately; delay is only permitted when immediate access may present a risk to visitors or staff.

Custody visitors visit the cells of those detainees who agree to see them (and if the staff consider it safe to do so).   Custody visitors seek to affirm that detainees have been offered their rights and entitlements are adhered to while they are in custody.  They also observe the detainee and their surroundings. All parts of the custody area are open to custody visitors, such as food preparation areas, stores and medical rooms. However, it is not part of their role to attend police interviews with detainees.

The custody officer or a member of custody staff must accompany custody visitors during visits and be alert to specific health or safety risk custody visitors might face and must advise them appropriately.

At the end of the visit a short report is completed, recording issues raised by detainees, the response or resolution agreed and any other feedback or observations.  Copies of this report are sent to the Inspector in charge of the custody unit, the panel coordinator and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. 

Contact us to be an independent custody visitor

Read more about Avon and Somerset's scheme


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