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Commissioner Seeking Detainee Welfare Volunteers

Are you interested in ensuring the welfare of people in custody and transparency within the police? Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, is currently looking for Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) to help scrutinise the way Cheshire Constabulary ensures the welfare of detainees.

Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer with volunteers.

All Police and Crime Commissioners are required to operate an ICV scheme, which provides an independent oversight of how people are treated when in police custody.

There are currently three custody suites operated by Cheshire Police in Blacon (Chester), Runcorn and Middlewich. ICVs make unannounced visits and speak with detainees, ensuring that they have received access to things they are entitled to including food and drink, solicitors and appropriate adults, and phone calls.

As well as speaking to people in custody, ICVs speak to staff at the custody suite and health care professionals in order to ensure the overall environment is suitable to ensure detainee welfare.

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire said “It’s my role to ensure that the Constabulary is providing an effective and efficient police service for people in Cheshire, and I can’t do that without ICVs. They carry out a crucial role in ensuring the welfare of detainees and contribute hugely towards improving police transparency and processes.

I can’t recommend this role highly enough and I am grateful for all the work that our volunteers do. If you are interested in a new challenge then apply to become an ICV as soon as you can. This is your chance to make a difference in policing.”

As a result of their observations on custody suite visits, ICVs are able to make recommendations which require the police to improve their detainee welfare processes and standards. They are in a unique position to influence the way Cheshire Constabulary operates and assist the Commissioner in holding the police to account.

Visits are always conducted in pairs on a rota basis, meaning ICVs will carry out visits with different people. They can be arranged at the convenience of the ICVs carrying out the visit and will typically take an hour to complete. Initial training is provided, as well as any follow-up training an ICV feels they may need.

Ian Berry, Independent Custody Visitor, said “When I retired, I wanted to remain mentally active and be involved in something different from the work I had done in my career I also recognised that interaction with people had been an important and enjoyable feature in my life and volunteering presented an opportunity for me to maintain this.

“This is a great opportunity to do something different, interesting and rewarding. If you work, it will give you a change from the day to day work. If you don’t work it will provide an activity to enhance your life, using your valuable skills and experience. I would encourage anyone to give it a try!”

To find out more about the role of an ICV and to apply, please visit www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/volunteering/independent-custody-visitor

If you would like an informal chat about becoming an ICV you can contact Karolina Kardas, Research and Volunteer Support Officer, at karolina.kardas@cheshire.police.uk