Independent Custody Visiting Scheme
The Bedfordshire Independent Custody Visiting Scheme has recently achieved platinum status at the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance Framework awards.
Platinum status means Bedfordshire’s ICV scheme provides an outstanding standard of custody visiting and volunteer management. To achieve this, there were more than 25 criteria covering key areas such as holding the force to account and requiring evidence to support each assessment. ICVA assessed each submission in order to obtain platinum award.
Read more in our recent press release regarding the platinum award for custody visiting.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has a statutory duty to maintain an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme for Bedfordshire. Independent custody visiting is a well established system whereby volunteers attend police stations to check on the treatment of detainees, the conditions in which they are held and that their rights and entitlements are being observed. The scheme offers protection and confidentiality to detainees and the police and provides reassurance to the wider community.
What is Independent Custody Visiting?
Under the Police Reform Act 2002, as amended by the Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act 2011, the Local Policing Body has a statutory duty to establish and maintain an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, which involves volunteer members of the public visiting police stations to check and report on the treatment of detainees, the conditions in which they are held and that their rights and entitlements are being observed. The scheme offers protection and confidentiality to detainees, the police and provides reassurance to the wider community.
Day-to-day management of the Scheme is undertaken by a Scheme Administrator within the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office.
What is the purpose of Independent Custody Visiting?
What is the role of an Independent Custody Visitor?
Independent Custody Visitors are members of the local community who, working in pairs, call at Police Custody Suites unannounced at any time. With agreement, 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 suite. Their work provides the PCC (and in turn the local community) with assurance that anyone arrested by the police and held in custody is treated fairly and has access to appropriate facilities.
For more information on the requirements of the role, please refer to our leaflet promoting the scheme or review the Custody Visitor Role Profile at the bottom of this page.
Who can become an Independent Custody Visitor?
Independent Custody Visitors come from all sections of the community. They must be aged over 18, reside in Bedfordshire and be a resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the date of application. No specific qualifications are required as full training and support is provided, however visitors should be good listeners, non-judgmental and unbiased.
Appointing Independent Custody Visitors
Independent Custody Visitors must be independent and impartial and, when making appointments, care is taken to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Serving police officers and other serving members of Police or PCC staff are unsuitable for this reason. The same applies to Special Constables, Justices of the Peace (JPs), Police and Crime Panel members and others connected with the criminal justice system.
After an initial probationary period of six months, Independent Custody Visitors are appointed for up to a further three years (as a review of all appointments to the Scheme is undertaken once every three years).
Appropriate Adults and ICV Role
Applications from interested Independent Custody Visitors will not be accepted if they are currently an Appropriate Adult in the same area. This is due to a conflict of interests in the two roles, as custody visitors may, on occasion, have cause to give critical feedback regarding the provision of appropriate adult services in the area they visit. Therefore, the independence element of the custody visitor role precludes one person covering both ICV and Appropriate Adult roles in a suite.
Independent Custody Visitors may act as an Appropriate Adult if:
How to apply to become an Independent Custody Visitor
If you would like more information about becoming an Independent Custody Visitor in Bedfordshire, or for general information regarding the scheme, please contact us via our website.
If you would like to complete the application form via Word or an alternative format, please contact us.
The ICV Code of Practice and ICVA National Standards are documents that were published by the Home Office and Independent Custody Visiting Association prior to 2018. Please contact us if you require these documents in an alternative format.
HMICFRS Inspection Reports – Bedfordshire Police Custody
Published on: 20 April 2021
Published on: 21 February 2020
The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA)
The Independent Custody Visitors Association (“ICVA”) is a Home Office, Policing Authority and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) funded membership organisation set up to lead, support and represent PCC and Policing Authority led schemes. The Independent Custody Visiting Association is a voluntary organisation that promotes the Independent Custody Visiting process nationally through advocacy, training, publicity and ongoing support to all involved in the process. The Association can be visited at www.icva.org.uk.
ICV Annual Reports
Updates are sent to Independent Custody Visitors in Bedfordshire on a quarterly basis which include information on the scheme, the office and any important information that has been disseminated nationally by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA).