What is Custody Visiting?
Typical Independent Custody Visiting Schemes will visit custody, interview detainees, and leave. In Derbyshire, we felt this wasn’t enough to understand the full custody process. Derbyshire has pioneered a new observational way of visiting custody- ICVs will attend a custody suite with their visit partner and spend a couple of hours in the suite, observing the following where possible:
- Booking in
- Stocks of clothing, soap, PPE, sanitary products, religious materials
- Kitchen cleanliness
- Have conversations with detainees
- Detention officers doing their rounds or custody inspector/sergeant reviews
It is not necessary or practical to observe all of the above during every visit.
When are visits undertaken?
ICVs visit each custody suite in pairs once per week- each ICV would usually do one visit per month.
ICVs are divided into North and South groups- the North Group visit Chesterfield custody suite, and the South Group visit Derby custody suite.
We try to ensure that visits vary across weekdays and weekends, and vary between day time and evening. This ensures we visit a breadth of detainees and check on welfare at as many different times as possible. It is also a requirement of the Quality Assurance Framework that we do this.
At the end of their visit, before leaving the Police station, ICV's complete an electronic visit report form which is used to inform the Commissioner's office, the custody suite and the Criminal Justice Department who are in overall charge of the suites of any issues raised and actions taken.
We hold regular (quarterly or monthly, context dependent) meetings with custody inspectors to share the findings from ICV visits and custody record reviews (see below). ICVs are welcome, and encouraged, to attend these meetings.
What is Custody Record Reviewing?
Please take a look at our custody record reviewing video which will provide an overview of what we do
The Commissioner has in place an effective Custody Visiting Scheme, however, visiting is limited to who Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) meet on their visit to Custody. ICVs make visits to each Custody Suite once per week and it is uncertain how many vulnerable detained persons (DPs) will be in Custody at the time of the visit and who will be available to visit. In addition, it depends how long a DP has been held to get an understanding of the care afforded to them. For example, if a child has only been held in Custody for one hour, the ICVs may not know if there is delay in receiving Appropriate Adult (AA) provision or if they were subsequently held overnight.
In order to get a better insight into the totality of care extended to vulnerable DPs, Derbyshire developed a new form of oversight- the Custody Record Review to examine the full Custody Record of a DP to consider, in depth, their full journey through Custody. This has been piloted by six other schemes, and has also been used by further schemes to retain oversight during the Covid-19 pandemic for additional oversight of custody.
If you would like to find out more about the findings of our Custody Record Review pilot, please take a look at the report as it was discussed at the Strategic Priorities Assurance Board meeting in November 2018.
Please read the Scheme Manager's Blog about why we Custody Record Review in addition to our regular Custody Visiting.
When are Custody Record Reviews undertaken?
Two pairs of ICVs interrogate three Custody Records each per week (a total of 6 records).
All record reviews will take place at Police HQ, Ripley and the exact date and time will need to be agreed with the visit partner and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Generally, the visits take place during the day, however, evening or weekend reviews can be facilitated if required.
Upon arriving at Police HQ the ICVs are provided with three redacted Custody Records (the redactions ensure that individuals are not identifiable as their personal information is obscured). ICV’s will then read through the record and report upon pre-set criteria which examines if the detained person was held appropriate to their needs and in line with PACE Code C.
The pre-set criteria that ICRs report upon is contained in a Survey Gizmo format, therefore ICRs should have basic IT skills.
The output from Custody Visiting is presented twice per year to the Strategic Priorities Assurance Board (previously the Strategic Governance Board) and annually as part of the OPCC Annual Report.