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Independent Custody Visitor scheme goes digital, maintaining police transparency and reassuring communities

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has introduced a new, innovative approach to custody checks using video-link technology, providing community reassurance and confidence in policing.

By adapting its working practices, the Commissioner has ensured that Independent Custody Visitor Scheme can be re-introduced, with visitors being able to work remotely, enabling them to observe social distancing requirements.

Custody checks are vital to the maintenance of custody standards and ensuring the health, safety and welfare of those detained in custody. The checks are undertaken by volunteer visitors across West Mercia.

The checks include ensuring that detainees have adequate access to hygiene facilities, bedding, blankets and PPE for visitors, which is vital at this time. The PCC also monitors whether physical and mental healthcare needs are being met during a person’s time in custody.

Volunteers from the PCC’s ICV scheme are now able to schedule in appointments with detainees, being able to speak to them, along with custody staff via a three-way link. The video calls enable social distancing, whilst maintaining the vital contact ICVs have with those in custody.

PCC John Campion said: “Communities, rightly, want to be reassured that when a person is detained in custody, they will be kept safe and their welfare needs will be met. Being detained in custody does not, after all, mean a person is guilty of a crime.”

“It’s incredibly important that, despite the current climate of social distancing, we find ways to maintain the high standards of assurance that have been set by the ICV scheme.”

“We have seen an unprecedented use of video technology during the pandemic and it’s right that we use this to our best advantage to ensure that detainees are safe in custody and for providing transparency and confidence in policing.”

Published 8th July 2020

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