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Information about Custody Visiting

What is Custody Visiting? ...

 

How and why did Custody Visiting start?

During the first half of 1981 several outbreaks of unrest occurred in major cities throughout the country. The most significant of these disorders took place in Brixton when hundreds of young people attacked property and the police.

The cause of these disorders centred around people protesting about oppressive policing and in particular the alleged harassment of people, especially young black people, by the police – in short, these incidents were anti-police and voiced a lack of trust in the law and order authorities.  After days of unrest, these serious incidents led to the government ordering an urgent inquiry and appointing Lord Scarman to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the events.

As part of the recommendations arising from the investigation and following report, Lord Scarman advocated a system for members of the public from local communities to inspect the way the police detained people in their custody.

Originally referred to as lay visiting, independent custody visiting is the system that has been developed to meet this recommendation.

 

Why do we need oversight of the Police?

This public oversight helps to prevent harm, it provides public reassurance that custody is safe and contributes to the UK’s human rights obligations. Police forces welcome the role of the custody visitors to give them an independent insight into their custody suites, often stating that the visitors’ reports are helpful to drive improvements.

The UK National Preventive Mechanism was established in 2009 to strengthen the protection of people in detention through independent monitoring.

In coordination across the four nations of the UK, the NPM focuses attention on practices in detention that could amount to ill-treatment, and works to ensure its own approaches are consistent with international standards for independent detention monitoring.

It is therefore important to the role of an ICV to know and understand how ICV schemes work alongside the NPM. To find out more, click here.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment is an optional UN Protocol that countries sign up to.

It has a preventive mandate focused on an innovative, sustained and proactive approach to the prevention of torture and ill treatment. The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture started its work in February 2007.

If you would like to find out more about the OPCAT, click here

 

PACE Code C

PACE Code C sets out the requirements for the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects not related to terrorism in police custody by police officers.

The Revised PACE Code C document were laid before Parliament on 14 May 2014 and will come into force on 2 June 2014.  They have now been published on GOV.UK and are available on the following pages:

Code C

Code H

The latest version of the revised PACE Code C document, as issued by the Home Office, containing the new written notice can be accessed here.

 

National Standards

The National Standards puts into context the Codes of Practice that underpin paragraph 51 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and identifies what are considered to be national standards to all involved int he process.  A copy of Standards can be found here: National Standards

 

Independent Custody Visiting Association

The Independent Custody Association ICVA is a Home Office funded organisation set up to promote and support the effective provision of custody visiting nationally.  ICVA values the work of independent custody visitors, who play a vital role in raising standards of custody and the treatment of detainees. It provides support to ICVs right across the UK.  Visit their website for lots of useful information http://icva.org.uk/

 

HMICFRS Inspection

Police custody inspections are carried out by HMICFRS and HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), as part of the criminal just inspectorates’ joint work programme.

These inspections contribute to the UK’s response to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, or the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

To comply with obligations under OPCAT, all places of detention must be inspected regularly to monitor treatment of, and conditions for, detainees. This approach is known as the National Preventative Mechanism (NPM). HMICFRS and HMIP are just two of the UK’s NPM members.

HMICFRS and HMIP have a rolling programme of unannounced police custody inspections across all 43 Home Office-funded police forces in England and Wales. The programme ensures that each force is inspected every six years, at a minimum.

A copy of the latest HMICFRS report on Derbyshire custody can be found here.

The ICV Scheme's response to the latest HMICFRS inspection is available here.

 

National Preventative Mechanism (NPM)

The UK National Preventive Mechanism was established in 2009 to strengthen the protection of people in detention through independent monitoring.

In coordination across the four nations of the UK, the NPM focuses attention on practices in detention that could amount to ill-treatment, and works to ensure its own approaches are consistent with international standards for independent detention monitoring.

It is therefore important to the role of an ICV to know and understand how ICV schemes work alongside the NPM. To find out more, click here.

 

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment is an optional UN Protocol that countries sign up to.

It has a preventive mandate focused on an innovative, sustained and proactive approach to the prevention of torture and ill treatment. The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture started its work in February 2007.

If you would like to find out more about the OPCAT, click here.

 
 
 
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