Independent Custody Visiting Volunteer Scheme

Find out more about our custody volunteer scheme below.  If you would like more information or would like to register your interest to join our Scheme, please submit the request via the online contact form.

Please note, we can offer assistance to any individual who requires help completing their form. If you require assistance please email pcc@derbyshire.pnn.police.uk

To find out more about the scheme click on the following titles to open the documents:

Person Specification (ICV and Custody Record Reviewing Scheme)
Role Description (Independent Custody Visiting/ Custody Record Reviewing)

View the latest vacancies at the Shared Human Resources Service Centre

See our Application Form Guidelines.

Code of Practice for the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme – produced by the Home Office in consultation with the Independent Custody Visiting Association. 

What is the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme?

Independent Custody Visiting was established in 1984 on a non-statutory basis to provide assurance to local communities about how those in the custody of the police are being treated. In 2003 custody visiting became statutory and the Home office issued a Code of Practice for PCCs and Independent Custody to follow.  To accompany the Code of Practice, the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) produced the National Standards to support effective custody visiting.

The Commissioner’s office has a statutory responsibility to have an effective Independent Custody Visiting Scheme in place.

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
  • Release
  • Stocks of clothing, soap, sanitary products, religious materials and food
  • 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.

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 was the ‘Brixton Riots’, when hundreds of young people attacked property and the police.

These disorders centred around people protesting 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.  These serious incidents led to an urgent government inquiry, culminating in the Scarman 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. Across 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.

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.

 When are visits undertaken?

ICVs visit each custody suite in pairs once per week and ICVs can visit either the Ripley or Derby 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, ICV’s complete an electronic visit report form which is used to inform the Commissioner’s office of any issues raised and actions taken. The scheme manager will then raise any issues ICVs have reported, to the lead of custody within force.

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 on 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 a 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.

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?

In pairs, ICVs interrogate up to five Custody Records a week.

All CRRs will take place at the preference of the ICVs but typically, this is via Zoom or Teams and the exact date and time will need to be agreed with the visit partner. 

At the beginning of each week, the ICVs that are scheduled to conduct CRRs are provided with five 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 examine if the detained person was held appropriate to their needs and in line with PACE Code C.

The pre-set criteria that ICVs report upon is contained in a Microsoft Forms format, therefore ICVs should have basic IT skills. The output from Custody Visiting is presented annually as part of the OPCC Annual Report.

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 came into force on 2 June 2014.  They are available on the following GOV.UK pages:

Code C
Code H

View the latest version of the revised PACE Code C document, as issued by the Home Office, containing the new written notice.

National Standards

The National Standards puts into context the Codes of Practice that underpins paragraph 51 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and identifies what are considered to be National Standards to all involved in the process.  A copy of the 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.  

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. 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.

View the latest HMICFRS report on Derbyshire custody.
View the ICV Scheme’s response to the latest HMICFRS inspection.

These inspections contribute to the UK’s response to OPCAT and the NPM. To comply with obligations under OPCAT, all places of detention must be inspected regularly to monitor treatment of, and conditions for, detainees. HMICFRS and HMIP are just two of the UK’s NPM members.

Recruitment of an Independent Custody Volunteer:

ICVs need good observational and thinking skills, strong ethical principles and should be comfortable challenging authority if required. ICVs would be required to undertake a minimum of one record review and one visit per month, totalling around 4/5 hours volunteering time. Where necessary, adjustments can be made in line with the Equality Act 2010.

There are some restrictions on who can volunteer as an independent custody visitor in order to avoid conflicts of interest. For example, serving members of the police force and those who currently sit on the bench are not eligible to become custody visitors.  If you are concerned that you may have a conflict of interest, then please contact the office and we will be able to advise you.

Visitors are volunteers, and are not paid a salary but are reimbursed for any expenses they incur whilst carrying out their duties, such as car mileage and parking costs.

Training for an Independent Custody Visitor:

In order to ensure that potential ICVs are sufficiently aware of the relevant law requirements for the care and custody of detainees, new ICVs must complete initial training which is arranged by the OPCC. This enables new ICVs to enable them to carry out their function in an efficient and credible manner.

Training will cover the basic knowledge and skills required to carry out visits and record reviewing effectively. Students will receive a detailed manual of guidance to support their training.

Following successful completion of the initial training, ICVs will be appointed for a six-month probationary period during which time experience will be acquired in a supportive environment.  Only once the probationary period has been successfully completed will full accreditation be granted.

The first visit will be made with a nominated ICV mentor and during the remainder of the probationary period visits will be made in tandem with experienced colleagues.  Immediately before the end of the six-month probationary period the probationer ICV will visit again with the nominated ICV mentor so that performance can be assessed. 

On completion of their probationary period, newly accredited ICVs will also have the opportunity to comment upon their experiences, and to give their views on the operation of the scheme in general through an interview with the scheme manager.

Transferrable Skills as an Independent Custody Visitor:

In your role as an independent custody visitor, you will develop a number of transferrable skills to utilise in other areas of your personal and professional lives, including:

Having difficult conversations and Challenging behaviour/conduct – ICVs will, where appropriate, challenge custody staff to ensure detainees receive their rights, entitlements and appropriate care.

Verbal communication- ICVs will have to communicate with each other, detainees, custody staff and ICV scheme managers in their role.

Working with vulnerable people- some people detained in police custody are very vulnerable by virtue of their age, gender, mental health or otherwise. Being an ICV will involve communicating with, and recognising the needs of, a variety of vulnerabilities.

Team working- ICVs will develop team working skills by conducting visits and record reviews with a variety of colleagues and through team training events.

Time management- ICVs are given a rota of roughly when to conduct visits and reviews, but it is the responsibility of ICVs to arrange with their visiting partner when to meet to conduct their visit.

Visit statistics, comments and issues

The statistics, including the number of visits made, where to, how many detained persons were spoken to and what issues were raised are retained by the Scheme Manager and regularly reviewed by the Commissioner, Chief Inspector in charge of Custody Suites and, of course, the Independent Custody Visitors. See more information here.

Quality Assurance Framework

What is the Quality Assurance Framework?

 ICVA set up a Quality Assurance Framework which is a tool that helps schemes to:

  • Reflect on how they comply with the Code of Practice
  • Celebrates areas of strength
  • Promotes Custody Visiting and the achievements they have made
  • Drives up the performance of schemes

How does it work?

Schemes were asked to assess themselves against the criteria for each level, being:

  • Code Compliant – Schemes meet statutory requirements and basic volunteer standards
  • Silver – Schemes provide a good standard of custody visiting and volunteer management
  • Gold – Schemes provide an excellent standard of custody visiting and volunteer management
  • Platinum – Schemes provide an outstanding standard of custody visiting and volunteer management

For silver and Gold claims, schemes must get their submission peer-assessed and for a platinum award to be given ICVA will assess the submission.

For more information, please visit ICVA’s website.

PLEASE NOTE: With the exception of legally required data and historic financial records, the majority of the information on the Derbyshire OPCC website covers information, news and events for the current Commissioner only. For access to news articles and information covering the previous Commissioners please contact the OPCC team.
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