Peterborough residents are being urged to sign up to a scheme to check on facilities in police station cells.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite is calling for members of the public from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to volunteer to become Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs).
ICVs are members of the local community who make unannounced visits to police custody where they check on the rights, entitlements and welfare of detainees as well as the conditions of custody. This public oversight helps to prevent harm and provides public reassurance that custody is a safe place to be.
If you are a good listener, have strong observation skills and a keen interest in human rights and helping vulnerable people, this could be the role for you.
ICVs work in pairs, visiting custody suites to speak to detainees about their treatment and observe the standard of facilities. Their findings are taken very seriously by the Commissioner and the Constabulary, and regularly lead to policy changes at a local, regional and national level.
Cambridge resident, Jo Treeby, who volunteers as an ICV, said: “Independent Custody Visitors are the eyes and ears of the community, observing, commenting and reporting on how people in detention are being looked after. We are all ordinary members of the public, from a variety of backgrounds.
“As an ICV, you get the chance to offer protection to both detainees and to the police, reassurance to the community at large and to see the workings of the criminal justice system – something you don’t normally get to see.”
Alasdair Baker, who manages the Scheme on the Commissioner’s behalf added: “Police custody evokes a very strong image in people’s minds of a place that can seem scary, and uncaring. This is a great opportunity for members of the public to get a real understanding about the experience of people in police custody, make a positive change in how it operates, and witness the professionalism of the staff who work there.
“Being an ICV, you will usually be asked to carry out one visit each month which takes about 90 minutes. You will also be invited to quarterly panel meetings where you get a chance to speak to the Commissioner and senior police officers, and an annual training event. We are particularly keen to grow our team of ICVs who visit detainees at Parkside Police Station in Cambridge, but would welcome applicants from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, said the role was a vital one. He said:“People volunteer as ICVs for a whole host of reasons – they may be interested in human rights or want to do more to help vulnerable people. Whatever the reason, ICVs make an important contribution to the rights of people in custody.”
The deadline for the current recruitment round is Sunday 14th July.
Interviews will be held the week commencing Monday July 22. Morning, afternoon and evening slots will be offered.
Training days are planned for Saturday August 10 and Saturday September 14.
To volunteer as an ICV you must be over 18 years old, been resident in the UK for the past 3 years from the point of application, and be living or working within Cambridgeshire or Peterborough.
To find out more visit http://www.cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk/volunteer-schemes/independent-custody-visitors-scheme/ where you will find details about the scheme and an application form.