Commissioner Commends Resilience of Independent Custody Visitor Volunteers
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall recently met online with his Independent Custody Visitor volunteers, to thank them for them for their efforts in adapting to different circumstances, to ensure the scheme continued to be delivered during the pandemic.
The Police and Crime Commissioner operates an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, made up of volunteers who live or work in Cumbria and make unannounced visits to police stations. They check on the welfare and wellbeing of people in police custody, such as making sure the cells are clean and that when needed, medical assistance is made available.
In the last 12 months from 1st January 2019, the scheme made 199 visits and in the same period for 2020, there has been a total of 205 visits that have included physical visits prior to the pandemic, dip sampling from the Scheme Administrator and volunteer ‘virtual’ phone call visits.
Peter McCall comments: “As always, I am extremely grateful for the work that our Independent Custody Visitors do as volunteers, giving up their time to ensure that the Scheme is effective. Even more so during the last 11 months and I would like to extend my personal thanks to each of them, for their commitment to this vital role.
“Faced with the Covid19 pandemic, our ICV visits were understandably suspended. This was in line with government restrictions to protect the safety of our volunteers, staff and detainees. Telephone visits were introduced to continue to oversee the welfare of detainees and in addition, the Scheme Administrator dipped sampled custody records weekly, to ensure that checks and monitoring continued.
“It was great to talk to the volunteers face to face, albeit online, and hear first-hand how the scheme is going. Through their dedication, ‘virtual’ visits and reporting, they have ensured that detainees are safe and well during their detention, providing reassurance to the community, that those detained in Cumbria, are treated with dignity and respect throughout their visit.”
One ICV volunteer comments: “I feel that, if we cannot visit in person, the telephone visit scheme is vital to continue the work of the ICV Scheme in providing an independent oversight of the Custody Suite. The checks on detainees can still, with in-depth questions, pick up most issues and the staff can still report any procedural or estates problems that are affecting working practices.”