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, please contact the OPCCN by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find out more about the role and responsibilities of Independent Custody Visitors in our Custody Visiting Scheme Guidelines.
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 and further information, and an application form can be found in the documents below:
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.
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. 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.
Date: 2020-12-08 / PDF (645 KB)
Please note that for 2018/19, the ICV Annual Report is included within the PCC's Annual Report.
For specific information around custody visiting in the PCC's Annual Report 2018/19, please see Appendix D (page 27).
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.
Update 2 May 2022
From the 2nd of May, Norfolk Constabulary lifted all remaining Covid restrictions in the workplace, meaning our ICVs no longer need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whilst visiting the police investigation centres. However they support a continuing strong preventative regime and will still use PPE where appropriate if a detainee is suspected of having Covid-19.
Update 22 October 2021
The presence of COVID -19 in the community still presents a challenge to our volunteers who continue to visit police stations on a weekly basis, checking on detainee welfare and ensuring the Constabulary are still following laid down policies and procedures.
All of our visits are still managed under strict Covid regulations, such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and track and trace, but the ICVs still carry out detailed and meaningful visits highlighting any issues they identify around an individual’s detention.
We have recently welcomed 10 new ICVs to the scheme who will be working alongside experienced visitors, learning the ropes and gaining skills before they carry out independent visits. These new ICVs will not only boost the overall numbers but provide much needed resilience to the scheme over the coming years.
Update 22 April 2021
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, volunteers who go into Norfolk’s police custody facilities to check on the welfare of those held there have restarted their visits.
It’s been a challenging year for the scheme and our volunteers who monitor the conditions in Norfolk’s custody facilities and the welfare of those held there. The safety of our volunteers, and the custody staff who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, is paramount. To keep everyone safe, it’s been necessary to pause physical visits at times over the last year in line with Covid guidance. At these times, interim measures have been in place to maintain regular monitoring and scrutiny of the custody environment.
We have worked closely with custody staff to put in place additional safety measures to allow physical visits to restart and are very grateful to our volunteers for their service.
As ICVs restart their visits, a new set of scheme guidelines has been published to support them in performing their role safely, effectively and to the best of their ability.
Update 25 January 2021
In response to the latest national lockdown, and in line with Government guidance on Covid-19, custody visiting in Norfolk was officially suspended in early January.
We continue to work closely with Norfolk Police in reviewing working practices and finding the best way forward to ensure a robust monitoring process.
Update 8 December 2020
Custody visits have restarted in Norfolk after a six-week break due to the November lockdown. Working closely with Norfolk Police, new and updated working practices have been agreed to allow the safe resumption of the Independent Custody Visiting scheme.
We are very grateful to our ICV volunteers for their continued commitment to the scheme and extremely pleased they will be visiting in the lead up to, and during, the festive period - affording extra protection for the most vulnerable in society who, in finding themselves in custody, can experience additional pressures.
Update 6 July 2020
Custody visitors resumed physical visits to Norfolk’s Police Investigation Centres at the end of June. We have worked closely with our volunteers and custody staff to put in place additional safety measure to enable visits to restart. A return to physical visits has not been mandated for our volunteers – some of our custody visitors are shielding and others are simply not yet ready or able to return to the role. We are grateful to the custody visitors who have volunteered to restart their visits and deliver this important service, on behalf of the PCC, as the eyes and ears of the Norfolk public.
Update 6 May 2020
On 27 April 2020, new interim arrangements for custody visiting in Norfolk were introduced to support our volunteers to continue their monitoring, on behalf of the PCC, of detainee welfare, while complying with Government restrictions and guidance in relation to Covid-19.
Each of Norfolk’s four Police Investigation Centres (PICs) has a panel of Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) assigned to it, with one ICV taking the role of panel coordinator. From 27 April 2020, the four panel coordinators will be undertaking weekly telephone monitoring of their PIC, liaising directly with the PIC inspector. Key areas of focus for the discussion between each ICV coordinator and PIC inspector include:
An update on detainee numbers and general detainee care.
Whether there are any problems providing detainee rights, particularly access to solicitors.
Whether there are any problems providing detainee safeguards, particularly access to Appropriate Adults.
Whether there are any problems providing detainee care, particularly access to hygiene such as soap, water and washing.
Whether the custody suites have adequate stocks of key provisions including blankets and meals.
An update on health and safety, particularly cleaning and custody staff access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Any issues the custody staff would like to raise.
Any examples of good practice to share.
Following each weekly call, a monitoring report for each PIC will is completed by the assigned ICV coordinator and returned to the ICV Scheme Administrator to provide feedback to the PCC so that any concerns or issues raised can be addressed with Norfolk Constabulary.
These interim arrangements remain under review and may be revised in response to any changes in Government restrictions and guidance on Covid-19.
We are continuing to look at what additional monitoring procedures could be introduced to support our custody visitors to carry out their roles safely and effectively.
Update 6 April 2020
Last month, in line with Government guidance on Covid-19, all custody visiting in Norfolk was suspended. As an interim measure the Head of Custody for Norfolk Constabulary will be reporting to the PCC on a fortnightly basis to update on how they are functioning at this challenging time, with a particular focus on detainee welfare.
Many of our custody visitors are at home self-isolating and our thoughts are with them. We highly value the work of our volunteers and are developing additional monitoring procedures to allow our ICVs to continue, while staying at home, the voluntary work they do so well.