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PCC’s office achieves prestigious national award for custody visiting

PCC’s office achieves prestigious national award for custody visiting

In a country-first Bedfordshire OPCC have advanced from being code compliant to platinum for their Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) scheme.

Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) achieved the award at the inaugural Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance awards.

They were presented with platinum status at a ceremony in Birmingham on Wednesday 29 November 2023.

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.

ICVA is the national organisation that supports, leads, and represents locally run custody visiting schemes.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are trained volunteers from the local community who visit police custody suites unannounced to check on the rights, well-being and dignity of detainees held in police custody.

The volunteers report their findings to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) who in turn holds the Chief Constable to account.

Welcoming the award, Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said “I’m proud that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has been awarded platinum in the ICVA Quality Assurance awards.

“This award is a fantastic achievement shows that our independent custody visiting scheme is among the best in the country.

“The team and volunteers have worked exceptionally hard to progress us from code compliant to platinum.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our independent custody visitors. They conduct visits at all hours of the day and night, without financial reward and play a critical role in ensuring that people who are held in police custody are treated fairly”.

The quality assurance framework (QAF) was put in place to assess how well schemes comply with the code of practice that governs custody visiting.

Richard Cunningham, Chief Inspector said, “I’m very grateful to all our independent custody visitors and my team of staff who work tirelessly together to ensure that people who are held in custody are treated fairly and with dignity and respect”.

Bethany Coles, Compliance Officer OPCC said: “Undertaking the QAF as Scheme Manager for Bedfordshire has been a great experience as it has allowed our scheme and custody visitors to reflect on how we comply with the Code of Practice.

“We have been able to positively highlight and celebrate key areas of strength within our scheme, although it has required a lot of hard work, dedication and most importantly patience. I am very pleased that we have been able to work our way up from Code Compliant to achieving Platinum level”.

Dame Anne Owers, Chair of ICVA, said: “Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing.  These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that police custody is safe and dignified for all.”

Sherry Ralph, Chief Executive at ICVA said: “The quality assurance framework represents a significant amount of additional work to ensure that independent custody visiting is regularly reviewed, improvements are made where they are needed and excellent practice is shared. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment.”

Independent Custody Visiting Association Platinum Award
Independent Custody Visiting Association Platinum Award

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