Volunteers thanked for their commitment to ensuring the welfare of police detainees in Norfolk
As national Volunteers’ Week begins Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner says a special thank you to the team whose job it is to check on the welfare of police detainees.
During 2022, Norfolk’s team of dedicated Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) carried out nearly 200 welfare checks at one of the county’s four Police Investigation Centres (PICs) in King’s Lynn, Aylsham, Great Yarmouth and Wymondham.
During Volunteers’ Week 2023 – an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering for their communities – PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie has thanked each and every ICV for the time and commitment they have shown.
PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie, said: “I am really proud of the successful ICV scheme we have running here in Norfolk.
“During this special week, I would like to take the time to thank each and every one of the team for their continued commitment and unwavering dedication to the role.
“What they do is invisible to most but our custody visiting volunteers play a crucial role in safeguarding detainees and the police too.
“If you or one of your family members found yourself in police custody, wouldn’t you want someone checking on your welfare? It can be a daunting and frightening experience without being aware of your rights or entitlements – this is where custody visitors can help.
“By visiting detainees and reporting on what they see, ICVs are also offering public reassurance that the police are treating people with fairness and respect.”
Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It is a chance to recognise the contribution volunteers make to their communities and say thank you.
A wide variety of activities will be happening across the country from volunteer recruitment events and open days to celebration and recognition events.
As well as checking on the welfare of those detained by police and the conditions in which they are held, ICVs also attend regular PIC Panel meetings with police and sit on the Independent Scrutiny Panel which monitors and oversees strip and search powers used by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary.
Diddy Nash has been a volunteer for around 14 years. She began volunteering after a family member was taken into custody and she wanted to help support others in similar situations. Diddy began working at Bethel Street Police Station in Norwich but is now based in Wymondham and recently became the Wymondham Panel Co-ordinator.
Speaking of her reasons for becoming a volunteer, Diddy said: “I thought it would have been helpful if my family member had someone to speak on their behalf.
“We have a good rapport with the officers we are not seen a ‘nosey neighbours’ but as volunteers doing our jobs for the welfare of those in custody.
“I have watched the scheme grow and things change in Norfolk. It is important we are here to do whatever we can for people.”
Joana Bicker became an ICV in March 2022. She is based in Great Yarmouth and decided to become a volunteer after she saw first-hand the impact someone being taken into custody can have on themselves and their family and friends.
“I wanted to give something back to society. When I got a call to say they were 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 also covers the Great Yarmouth area.
“I wanted to ensure that people are being looked after…making sure people are getting good care, that their rights are observed," said George.
“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.
“Looking after peoples’ welfare and ensuring that the right scrutiny is in place, that’s what I enjoy the most.”
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, 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 in order to be fully accredited.