Volunteers praised for helping ensure welfare of police detainees in Norfolk
A group of volunteers whose job it is to ensure the welfare of people being held in police custody have been praised for their commitment to the role and determination to help those at their most vulnerable, even during the pandemic.
Norfolk’s team of dedicated Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) received thanks from the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Giles Orpen-Smellie and the County’s High Sheriff David McLeavy Hill at a special ceremony at Norfolk Police headquarters earlier this month.
Norfolk currently has 22 ICVs who 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.
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.
On Wednesday 20 July a number of the team received certificates for long-service, with co-ordinators receiving thanks for their support during the pandemic. Recipients included:
Luciana Copping, based at Great Yarmouth – who has carried out 14 years’ service.
Susan Harrowing, based at Wymondham and is a panel co-ordinator – who has carried out 15 years’ service.
Rick Parry, based at Aylsham Panel – who has carried out 23 years’ service.
Michel Rayson, based at King’s Lynn and is the local co-ordinator – who has carried out 16 years’ service.
Jane Roberts, based at Great Yarmouth – who has carried out 15 years’ service.
Mike Warren, based at Wymondham – who has carried out 11 years’ service.
Lindsey Cullum, based at Aylsham and is the local co-ordinator – who has carried out 8 years’ service.
Tracey Matthews, based at Great Yarmouth where she is the panel coordinator – who has carried out 5 years’ service.
Not all those thanked for their long service were able to attend the day. Other recipients included:
Glyn Bailey, based at Wymondham – who has carried out 14 years’ service.
Diddy Nash, based at Wymondham – who has carried out 13 years’ service.
Lorraine Zima, based at Wymondham Panel – who has carried out 14 years’ service.
Simon Atherton, who works for to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) and oversees the scheme in his role as scheme manager, said: “It is fair to say most of our ICVs will have seen extensive changes to the scheme over the years and it is of even more credit that they have continued to change, adapt, learn and develop their own skills.
“ICVs now see and report back on a wide range of people in detention, they gather a wide range of data such as extent of vulnerability, language spoken, ethnicity and whether police procedures have been discharged correctly.
“They are an invaluable asset to Norfolk. The coordinator role has always been important to the Norfolk scheme. As well as acting as ICVs they importantly arrange the rota of visits for the panel, offer contact and support to ICVs.
“But it was during the pandemic when that commitment really shone through when it is it fair to say that they helped keep the scheme functioning.
“As well as regular contact with myself, they also kept in contact with ICVs, passing on key messages about visiting updates and the COVID situation within the PICs.
“They were also at the forefront of returning to visiting post-lockdown, carried out telephone monitoring during lockdowns, distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and assisted with risk assessments.
“Their unbridled enthusiasm, love of their ICV role and the Scheme as a whole helped me through some difficult periods between March 2020 and the ‘final’ visiting restart in April 2022.”
The PCC has a statutory responsibility to establish and manage an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme.
PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie, added: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet a group of such dedicated men and women who have helped ensure the welfare of detainees in Norfolk not only over the past several years, but when people were at their most vulnerable during the pandemic.
“I am truly proud to have such a successful functioning scheme here in Norfolk and I thank each and every one of them for their continued commitment and unwavering dedication to the role.”
Norfolk’s High Sheriff David McLeavy Hill, added: “It was a great pleasure to meet up with some of the ICV volunteers again and celebrate their long service. Norfolk is very grateful to them and the important role they play in the Justice System in the County."
Simon Atherton has recently been appointed as the Independent Custody Visiting Association’s (ICVA) regional representative 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.