Your PCC has a statutory responsibility to establish and manage an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme.
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are members of the local community who volunteer to visit Norfolk’s Police Investigation Centres (PICs), unannounced and in pairs, to check the treatment and welfare of detainees and deliver effective oversight to ensure a safe environment while providing public reassurance.
They play a valuable role in maintaining public confidence in this important area of policing.
There is a panel of visitors allocated to each of the four Norfolk PICs (Aylsham, Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn and Wymondham) who make visits on a weekly basis to make sure that detainees are treated fairly and with respect.
A short report of their findings is made prior to leaving the PIC which provides assurance for the PCC that anyone arrested by the police and held in custody is treated fairly and has access to appropriate facilities. Copies of the reports are provided for the police and the ICVs’ local panel for discussion and follow-up.
What is the role of an Independent Custody Visitor?
An Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) does not need to know why a person is being detained in custody, and they do not talk to those held about their arrest or follow up on what happens subsequently. The role is purely objective and ensures that the detainees’ legal rights have been offered and explained.
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 ICVs 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.
For more information about Independent Custody Visiting or for a copy of our 'Custody Visiting Scheme Guidelines', please contact the OPCCN by email: ICV@norfolk.police.uk
Meet some of the team
Joana Bicker has only been an ICV since March this year (2022). She is based in Great Yarmouth and decided to become a volunteer after a family member “got into trouble” and she saw first-hand the impact someone being taken into custody can have on themselves and their family.
“I wanted to give back to society. When I got a call to say he was in custody I couldn’t believe it but the people in the PIC were so nice. I really appreciated all of them for the way they dealt with the situation, and it made me want to give something back.”
George Garamukanwa is also new to the scheme having started with Joanna in March this year (2022). He also covers the Great Yarmouth area.
George said working in mental health as his day job has helped prepare him for the role.
“I wanted to ensure that people are being looked after…making sure people are getting good care, that their rights are observed.
“The visits I have been on have been very interesting and very diverse. I have been impressed by the collaboration with officers and the enthusiasm of the other volunteers.
“There are similarities sometimes to my day job in mental health. You are ensuring they are being looked after and their dignity has been respected. Looking after peoples’ welfare and ensuring that the right scrutiny is in place, that’s what I enjoy the most.”
Simon Atherton, who works for to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) and oversees Norfolk's ICV scheme in his role as Scheme Manager, has recently been appointed as the Independent Custody Visiting Association’s (ICVA) regional representative. In his role Simon will be responsible for coordinating and chairing quarterly meetings with regional colleagues from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk – ensuring the Norfolk scheme has a voice on a national basis.
He has also been appointed to the National Expert Forum – a group brought together to advise the ICVA Board of Directors, identifying any emerging trends, reporting back on how schemes are performing, working with constabularies and scrutinising and evaluating new ICVA policy and procedures.
Interested in becoming a Custody Visitor?
The PCC is responsible for recruiting, selecting and appointing all custody visitors and seeks to be representative of our communities, including taking account of different ethnic origins, gender and age ranges.
ICVs are unpaid, but receive allowances to cover travelling expenses. They must be over 18 years of age, reside or work in Norfolk and have no direct involvement in the criminal justice system – this is to prevent possible conflicts of interests for the individual and maintains the independence of the Scheme.
Appointment as an ICV is subject to a successful application and interview process. Any appointment is subject to vetting and volunteers are required to sign up to our Memorandum of Understanding.
Successful applicants will need to attend an initial training course to prepare them for the role, and complete a six-month probationary period in order to be fully accredited.
Applications to become an ICV are considered at any time – for an application pack or to discuss current vacancies please contact the Scheme Manager. Email: ICV@norfolk.police.uk
Each year, an annual report is published for the local community to inform and reassure them about how people are treated whilst in police custody.
A copy of the 2021/22 Annual Report can be found below. The 2022/23 report will be published in due course.
Copies of Annual Reports before 2021/22 can be requested by emailing: ICV@norfolk.police.uk
Annual Report of Independent Custody Visitors for 2021-22
Date: 2023-06-20 / PDF (1.3 MB)
Independent Custody Visiting Association
The PCC is a member of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), a voluntary organisation that promotes the Independent Custody Visiting process nationally. ICVA provides advice, training, publicity and ongoing support to all involved in the process.
HMICFRS - Custody Reports
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) independently assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces and fire & rescue services – in the public interest.
Police custody inspections are jointly carried out by the HMICFRS and His Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons. The inspections look at strategy, treatment and conditions, individual rights and health care.