Independent Custody Visitors
As part of his monitoring and holding to account role, the Commissioner operates an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) programme across the West Mercia area.
These visits involve members of the public going into police custody suites and checking everything is operating as it should. That includes checking the welfare of detainees – for example, are they getting enough to eat or drink, or are they getting any required medical help or medication. It also includes checking that police officers are following all the correct legal processes and protocol.
The main purpose of the ICV scheme is to ensure public confidence in their police force. By observing and reporting on the work done in custody suites it directly involves independent members of the public in scrutinising an important part of police work.
The volunteers who carry out these visits receive special training in how to carry out their role. They make unannounced visits at least once a week, often during unsocial hours. It is undoubtedly a fascinating role and many of West Mercia’s volunteers have been doing it for decades.
The scheme was introduced in West Mercia in 1983 and became a statutory requirement in 2003.
ICVs belong to one of four panels across West Mercia, making visits to the five custody suites within the force area. They are:
- Herefordshire panel – visiting the Hereford custody suite (16 cells)
- North Worcestershire panel – visiting the Kidderminster custody suite (11 cells)
- South Worcestershire panel – visiting the Worcester custody suite (22 cells)
- Shropshire panel – visiting the custody suites in Shrewsbury (16 cells) and Malinsgate (15 cells)
Interested in becoming an Independent Custody Visitor?
Find out more about custody visiting including national standards from the Independent Custody Visiting Association.