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Police and Crime Commissioner calls for the public to volunteer to visit people in custody

Could you help protect the welfare and uphold the rights of vulnerable people held in police custody?

Mark Shelford, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, has launched a new campaign to recruit members of the public to be Independent Custody Visitors.

Independent Custody Visitors carry unannounced inspections of police custody centres to ensure people in custody are aware of their rights and what they are entitled to for their wellbeing while detained.

The new campaign calls for people from all walks of life, ages and life experience to sign up to do one visit per month to one of three custody centres in Avon and Somerset located in Keynsham, Patchway and Bridgwater.

These volunteer roles are part of the Crime Commissioner’s legal responsibility to scrutinise the work of the police to ensure that it is efficient and effective. PCC Mark Shelford said:

“Being arrested and taken into custody can be a time of stress and when people are at their lowest ebb. My custody visitor volunteers are members of the public who can ensure the police are providing the level of care and respect that we expect. These roles are vital in maintaining high standards of treatment and care for people who have been arrested and taken into custody.

 “Each Independent Custody Visitor will do one visit per month in pairs at times to suit them. They turn up, effectively unannounced, at any time and ask to view the custody records which show who is in custody awaiting a charging decision, court visit or to be released. They then go and speak to detainees at random and ensure their welfare needs are being met. They can ask for detention officer staff to make additional provisions depending on individual needs.

“As the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner we rely heavily on our volunteers to scrutinise the police and to provide an independent viewpoint. If you have a sense of social justice and feel strongly about ensuring policing is fair for everyone please get in touch – I encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to apply. You don’t need specific qualifications and we provide all the training you need for these very rewarding voluntary roles.”

For more information visit: The Independent Custody Visiting Scheme | OPCC for Avon and Somerset (

You can apply directly for this role here : Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) Volunteer (