Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold wanted to spend time with Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) and see their work first-hand. Their role is to visit detainees held in police custody. He took the opportunity on Friday 18 August to shadow two ICVs Brian Warmington (from Rothwell) and Jane Noton (from Duddington) during an evening custody visit to the new Weekley Wood Justice Centre in Kettering.
ICVs are volunteers and always visit in pairs. They arrive unannounced at Northamptonshire’s police custody facilities at least once a week. Their role is to check on the welfare of detainees and ensure they are receiving their rights and entitlements and that the conditions are satisfactory.
Police and Crime Commissioners have a statutory obligation to put in place an effective Independent Custody Visiting Scheme in their area as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
The Northamptonshire scheme has 20 ICVs who regularly visit the Criminal Justice Centre in Northampton and the Weekly Wood Justice Centre in Kettering.
“Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I wanted to take the opportunity to see first-hand the great work of our Independent Custody Visitors and watch them in action. I was very impressed with their communications expertise, they are obviously very well trained and highly skilled in ensuring detainees are being treated appropriately and are receiving their rights and entitlements while in custody.
“The visit also gave me an opportunity to say thank you to Brian and Jane for volunteering their time to support this important work. They have both been involved in custody visiting for several years and I’m very grateful to them and to all of our ICVs for their commitment and professionalism.”
During visits the ICVs are escorted by a member of custody staff, but that member of staff does not have any involvement in the conversation between the ICV and the detainee.
ICV Brian Warmington said: “I really enjoy my custody visiting role as it’s so interesting. People are detained for an array of reasons and we must remain impartial, non-judgemental and protect people’s confidentiality. For some detainees it might be their very first experience of being in police custody – which may be daunting or distressing. It’s really important they understand the process and what their rights are, and we can help to make sure that happens.
“We ask detainees a number of different questions to check on their welfare and if we have any issues or concerns we report this directly to custody staff and also make sure it’s properly recorded. It’s an important role and a very rewarding and satisfying voluntary position and one I’d definitely recommend to others.”
There are currently vacancies for Independent Custody Visitors to cover visits to the Weekley Wood Justice Centre in Kettering. If you are interested in volunteering for the scheme please email: Commissioner@northantspcc.pnn.police.uk.