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

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.

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.


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 attend an Initial Training Day 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 Day, 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.

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.
Taking PartIndependent Custody Visiting Volunteer Scheme
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