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Unless you have spent time in police custody or work in the Police Investigation Centres where those detained are held, you probably won’t have heard of the Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) – volunteers who visit the county’s custody facilities, unannounced and in pairs, to check on the treatment and welfare of people held there.
The dedication and commitment of one particular ICV has this week been recognised by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lorne Green.
Rick Parry, from Fakenham, is Norfolk’s longest serving ICV. Rick joined the scheme in 1998 and has been part of the Aylsham custody visiting panel for the last 20 years.
Marking Rick’s milestone with a presentation at his office in Wymondham, PCC Lorne Green said: “This country couldn’t run without volunteers and Norfolk, in particular, has some excellent ones.
“Our custody visitors are the eyes and the ears of the public – visiting detainees, reporting on what they see and offering public reassurance that the police are treating people with fairness and respect.
“The efforts of all the volunteers who take on this role are very much appreciated. This week I had the pleasure of meeting with just a few of them to mark Rick’s 20 years of involvement in the scheme – something which is quite remarkable. We are very proud to have him on our scheme.”
Asked why he had joined and stuck with the scheme for so long, Rick said: “I wanted to put something back into society. It’s an important role – safeguarding those who end up in police custody – and it certainly gives you a different view on life. There is always something happening and it’s a real eye-opener to see first-hand the situations and challenges faced by police officers and staff in Norfolk’s custody facilities.
“None of us is immune to something going wrong in our lives – it could be due to social or health issues for example – and anyone could ultimately find themselves in police custody. What I and my fellow custody visitors do is check that, whoever it is behind that cell door, they are being treated as we would like one of our family members to be treated.”
PCC Lorne Green launched a recruitment campaign earlier this month for more custody visitors. Volunteers are needed to visit police custody facilities in Aylsham, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Wymondham.
“We have had an excellent response so far to what is truly a unique and interesting volunteering opportunity. The fact that Rick has been a custody visitor for 20 years is testament to that. I hope his story will inspire anyone looking for a new challenge in 2019 to get in touch.”
For more information on becoming an Independent Custody Visitor, please click here or contact the ICV Scheme Administrator on 01953 424455 for more information.