Changes to custody visiting in line with government guidance on Covid-19
Update 6 July 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.
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 the PCC’s 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.
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.
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.
Please note that from 2019, the ICV Annual Report is included within PCC Annual Report.
For specific information around ICV in Annual Report 2018/19 please see Appendix D (page 27).
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.
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.
Applications to become an ICV are considered at any time and further information, and an application form can be found in the documents below:
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.
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.