Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Five Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs), responsible for monitoring the welfare of those detained by police in Luton, were among the first to visit a £0.5m refurbishment of the custody suite at Luton Police Station in a bid to increase public confidence by the Bedfordshire PCC.
Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway launched the custody suite at Luton, which has undergone a £565,000 refurbishment, together with Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher. The new layout and equipment sets it at the cutting edge of custody design in England and Wales. The new facilities ensure the suite, with a custody desk, cells - some with transparent doors to allow safe monitoring of vulnerable detainees - and kitchen and shower-room facilities meets Home Office guidelines and is set to serve the Force for the next decade. It also houses cutting edge technology including an imaging system to detect hidden weapons and mobile phones.
After visiting the revamped suite at Luton Police Station today PCC Kathryn Holloway said: “I visited Luton Custody immediately before the refit and it is now unrecognisable as the same place.  It’s gone from being an out-dated, dark and depressing place to a 21st century facility which should create a new sense of confidence in the wider community. 
"It is not only a better workplace for our officers and detention staff, but offers the sort of modern washing and catering facilities which should be available to detainees in any civilised society, as we need to remember that nobody held here has yet been found guilty by any court of law.”
The PCC has a legal 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.
Commissioner Holloway continued: “The ICV scheme which is run by my office is vitally important. It offers protection to detainees, the police and detention officers and provides reassurance to the wider community that the cells and custody area are independently assessed and that this is done regularly.
“I'm delighted that the five ICVs who visited Luton were able to inspect the new custody suite and ensure they're happy with the new facilities so that they're familiar with the new set up before their formal visits to detainees.”
ICVs in Bedfordshire meet with those kept in custody and ensure they are being treated fairly, that facilities like showers and toilets are acceptable and report back any health concerns to custody staff.  The scheme has a dedicated team of volunteers covering the county’s custody suites in Kempston, Luton and Dunstable, who make unannounced visits in pairs once a week to each custody suite, during the day and night, seven days a week.
ICV volunteers are expected to carry out a minimum of four visits to the custody suites a year and attend quarterly panel meetings to discuss the key issues raised with them.
For further information on the scheme or more about the role and the necessary application forms, please visit the Commissioner’s website at: