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OPCC welcomes volunteers from Bedfordshire to Norfolk to ICV Regional Conference
Bedfordshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) welcomed over 70 volunteers working to ensure proper treatment of those in custody to the Independent Custody Visitors' (ICV) Eastern Regional Conference at Police HQ. (Saturday 21 April 2018).

The office of the Bedfordshire PCC leads independent custody inspections working with volunteers in Bedfordshire and is the Regional ICVA lead for force areas throughout the East of England.

Throughout the conference, they heard from speakers including Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay on drug use by those in custody, Tom Milson from the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) on recent changes to the police complaints procedure, the Home Office and Doctor Sabrina Valentino on healthcare in custody. They also received a presentation from the Bedfordshire OPCC’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Justine Currell, who was able to offer her expertise as she is also the director of the Modern Slavery charity, Unseen, to explain to the volunteers what signs to look out for to spot evidence of Human Trafficking in custody. 

“I was extremely pleased to attend the recent ICV conference to recognise the important role our volunteers play in ensuring the wellbeing of those detained in custody.  The importance of local community volunteers, speaking with detainees to ensure their wellbeing and treatment and who have the ability to raise any concerns they have with custody staff is key to the integrity of the custody process and I applaud their ongoing commitment,” said Deputy PCC, Justine Currell.

“My office was delighted to host the ICVs from throughout the region who are extremely ably led by the representative within my office, Katie Beaumont. We should remember that those who are held in custody are innocent until proven guilty and that, in any case, it is a mark of civilised law enforcement that those who are brought into custody are treated properly. The tireless - and unpaid - work of the ICVs, making unannounced visits to all our custody suites, helps to ensure that this is the case and that high standards are maintained,” said Bedfordshire’s Commissioner Holloway.

“In this county, we have invested in completely revamping the custody suite at Luton, which viewers of the C4 documentary series “24 Hours in Police Custody” will no doubt have spotted. At Kempston HQ we have a modern and clean, but temporary, custody block which I am looking to replace as a matter of urgency,” she said.

Throughout the Eastern region, there are 154 ICVs assessing the care of those in custody suites in six force areas in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

ICVs are members of the local community who, working in pairs, call at police stations without notice, at any time of day and night. The visitors can speak to detainees about their treatment or conditions and take up any issues of concern with custody staff. A short report of their findings is made prior to leaving the station. Their work provides the PCC, and in turn the community, with assurance that anyone arrested by the police and held in custody is treated fairly and has access to appropriate facilities.

The Commissioner’s office works closely with volunteers to ensure that they regularly visit Bedfordshire's custody suites throughout the year. The scheme in Bedfordshire is run by OPCC Compliance Officer, Katie Beaumont. Katie, who is also the ICV Director for the Eastern Region, arranged the conference for the ICVs to ensure those volunteering are equipped with the most up to date training and information. 

“I was delighted to organise Bedfordshire’s opportunity to host the ICV Regional Conference. We had a fantastic turn-out, with volunteers coming from as far as Norfolk and Suffolk to hear from our expert speakers. Most importantly, we got the chance to say thank you for their continued dedication in volunteering their time to visit custody suites across the region,” said Katie Beaumont.

Bedfordshire’s ICV Volunteer Lead, Mark Mason, said, “It was an exceptional Regional Conference from the Bedfordshire OPCC, with plenty of networking opportunities and professional speakers. I have certainly learned more about the different aspects of custody from the need for appropriate adults to accompany the vulnerable to immigration which I can use to enhance my visiting skills and share with my fellow ICVs.” 

For more information about the ICV Scheme and to apply, please visit our ICV page on the website.