DECEMBER marks the 25th anniversary of custody visiting in Cambridgeshire.
The Independent Custody Visiting Scheme is run by Cambridgeshire Police Authority and involves volunteers who visit custody suites unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees. The Scheme was established in the aftermath of the Brixton Riots.
The Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) make unannounced visits to the six custody suites across Cambridgeshire (Parkside, Huntingdon, St Neots, March, Thorpe Wood and Ely), on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and then report back to the Police Authority on their findings, raising any concerns or issues so that the Authority can hold the Constabulary to account for resolving them satisfactorily.
The Scheme is extremely important to provide public reassurance that detainees are treated appropriately whilst in custody. The visitors play a vital role in this process, helping to raise standards in custody and the ensuring the fair treatment of detainees. The Cambridgeshire Scheme currently has 29 volunteers and a recruitment process is underway to increase the number to 37 by the New Year.
There are a number of longstanding volunteers on the panels. The three current longest serving volunteers of the three panels have clocked up 50 years combined, equating to an incredible 9,600 hours undertaking custody visiting in Cambridgeshire!
In 2006-2007, the volunteers undertook 219 visits and saw 426 (40%) of the total number of detainees in custody at the time they visited. In 2010-2011, volunteers conducted a total of 198 custody visits and saw a remarkable 622 (72%) of the total number of detainees in custody at the time they visited.