Independent Custody Visitors
What is an Independent Custody Visitor?
Custody visitors are members of the local community who volunteer to make unannounced visits to police stations in the Thames Valley area. They check on the welfare of people in police custody by speaking to those detained and monitoring the conditions of the cells. Any problems highlighted during the spot check are brought to the attention of custody staff and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to be dealt with.
The visits provide an independent check on the way in which detainees are held, and also to help foster better public understanding and confidence in the way prisoners are treated.
What happens on a visit?
The aim of a custody visit is to ensure that people in cells are being held in accordance with strict guidelines laid down by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
Custody Visitors observe the conditions in which people are being held, and speak to those detainees who are willing to be questioned.
They check and make sure that:
- detainees have been offered food and drink
- detainees are warm enough
- cells are in a reasonable condition
- religious and cultural needs of the detainee have been considered
- detainees have been informed of their rights .
When and where are visits made?
Visits are regularly made to eight designated police stations in Thames Valley:
- High Wycombe
- Loddon Valley
- Milton Keynes
Where can I find more information?
For more information on Custody Visiting visit the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) website.
How to get involved?
Custody visitors should be independent of the police; serving police officers, members of police, or Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner staff will not be considered. This also applies to special constables and justices of the peace.
The process involves the completion of an application form followed by an interview and a short induction programme. Appointments cannot be confirmed until a six month probationary period has been satisfactorily completed.
You must be at least 18 years old to become a custody visitor. There is no upper age limit.
Completed forms should be returned to:Custody Visiting Scheme AdministratorOffice of the Police and Crime CommissionerThames Valley Police HeadquartersOxford RoadKidlingtonOX5 2NX Forms can also be returned by email to Custody Visiting