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Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office wins national award for custody visiting

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) has been recognised nationally for the quality of its independent custody visiting scheme.

Under this scheme, trained volunteers from the local community (Independent Custody Visitors or ICVs), managed by the OPCCN make regular unannounced visits to police custody suites to check on the rights, entitlements, wellbeing and dignity of the detainees held there. Their findings are reported to the Police and Crime Commissioners and Police Authorities who hold Chief Constables to account. 

The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) - the national membership organisation that supports, leads and represents these schemes - has developed a quality assurance framework to assess how well schemes comply with the code of practice that governs custody visiting.  

This is the second year that schemes have been assessed under the framework, and have been able to gain quality assurance awards to recognise the value of their work. The OPCCN’s scheme was presented with a silver quality assurance award by ICVA on Wednesday 29 November, at a ceremony in Birmingham.  

Welcoming the award, Giles Orpen-Smellie, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, said: “Huge congratulations to all our Independent Custody Visitors.  I am immensely proud of their achievements over the past year and would like to thank all our volunteers for their hard work and continuing support. The work of the ICVs, by its nature, goes unseen and, while it may not always be the most glamorous or pleasant role, they provide a vital check and balance for what goes on behind the closed doors of our Police Investigation Centres.”

Dame Anne Owers, Chair of ICVA, said: "Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing.  These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that police custody is safe and dignified for all.”

Sherry Ralph, Chief Executive at ICVA said: “The quality assurance framework represents a significant amount of additional work to ensure that independent custody visiting is regularly reviewed, improvements are made where they are needed and excellent practice is shared. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment."

Photo caption: Independent Custody Visiting Scheme Manager, Simon Atherton with ICVA Co-ordinator for Gt Yarmouth, Tracey Matthews.

How to become an ICV

To apply, you must be over 18, live in Norfolk and have lived in the UK for more than three years. Although this is a voluntary role, travel expenses are paid. 

Successful applicants will need to attend an initial training course to prepare them for the role and complete a six-month probationary period to be fully accredited.

Visit our Custody Visiting web page for more information>>