Recruitment is currently live for Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs): volunteers who report on the welfare of detainees and ensure they have been given their rights.
ICVs are volunteers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds with a variety of skills and experiences. The ICVs make random, unannounced visits to custody suites and report their findings at a quarterly meeting.
Each visit is undertaken in pairs, with volunteers making an average of one visit per month. So far this year, the ICVs have made a total of 57 visits to police custody, meeting 286 detainees.
To allow potential applicants to find out more information about the role, the OPCC will be running a live web chat on Thursday 10 August 2017. The event will start at 6:30pm and run for an hour. Participants will be invited to submit questions prior to the event, as well as in live time.
Police & Crime Commissioners have responsibility for the appointment and overseeing of ICVs.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “People detained in police custody can be extremely vulnerable and ICVs provide a crucial service. IPCC statistics released yesterday show that since 2006/7, the number of deaths in or following police custody has almost halved, while the number of recorded apparent suicides following custody has decreased nationally. ICVs play an integral role in contributing to the maintenance of high standards in police custody, by ensuring detainees’ legal rights are respected and their welfare is protected.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to make a valuable contribution to society, not only by assisting one individual in custody, but by ensuring that Dorset Police is held to account and providing the highest standard of service.”
There are currently 18 ICVs operating in Dorset. Colin Ellis, who started volunteering at the end of last year, said: “I saw the role as opportunity to give something back to the community; supporting the rights of those detained by the police and supporting the police in their ongoing efforts to ensure those in custody are treated fairly and properly.
“It’s a real eye opener to what police are dealing with. You certainly meet a diverse range of people and you never know what you’re going to be faced with. This is what sets it apart from other volunteer roles. It also offers the opportunity to learn and develop while providing a valuable service.”
Mark Payne is Co-Deputy Chair of the ICV Panel and has been volunteering for nine years. He added: “I would recommend the scheme to anyone who has an interest in policing, wants to play an important role in the local community and become involved in something a bit different.
“Custody visiting isn’t like normal volunteering roles. It is not always glamorous and can be challenging, but each visit is different and it is always interesting. The role is particularly rewarding when you can make a positive difference to someone who is having a bad day. I have also seen positive changes to custody procedures which are a direct result of the scheme, which is extremely encouraging as a volunteer.”
Volunteers must be over 18 years old, speak English and have no other involvement in the Criminal Justice System. They must have been a UK resident for three years or more and crucially, must be currently living or working in Dorset.
Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate good organisation, communication and a respect for diversity. They must be able to work well in a team, take personal responsibility and show resilience.
Those interested in applying should email email@example.com. More information can be found at www.dorset.pcc.police.uk/get-involved/volunteering/custody-visiting/