ICVA works alongside scheme administrators and all those involved in the custody visiting process to offer best practice nationally, in order to acknowledge the commitment of ICVs and provide excellent and consistent service in custody suites across the UK.
Regional seminars, the annual conference, scheme administrator conferences, training sessions and the Visiting Times magazine all help to drive this process forward.
Funded by the Home Office and chaired by Kevan Downer, the association employs two full time staff supported by the executive committee who meet regularly to discuss current issues and assess the way forward. Scheme administrators in police and crime commissioners and joint policing boards throughout the UK coordinate local independent custody visiting schemes and meet regularly with regional visitors, reporting findings in the strive towards constant improvement.
Initially referred to as lay visiting to police stations, independent custody visiting owes its origin to Lord Scarman, whose report on the Brixton riots in 1981 recommended a system of independent, unannounced inspection of procedures and detention in police stations by local community members, to counter growing mistrust of the police and to increase their accountability to the general public.
As a result of extensive lobbying and the support of Home Office officials and ministers, the Police Reform Act 2002 placed a statutory obligation on police and crime commissioners in England and Wales to have an effective independent custody visiting scheme. It had already become a statutory requirement in Northern Ireland in 2001 but to date remains non-statutory in Scotland. Codes of Practice and National Standards were also developed to assist all involved in the process.
“Thousands of visits are now made throughout the United Kingdom each year and ICVA is anxious that this commitment from volunteer ICVs is not lost, but allowed to influence relevant decision makers. The association recognises the need to strive for quality throughout schemes - from publicity, recruitment and training to working protocols, working practices and feedback.”
“ICVA is working closely with other bodies within the voluntary sector of the criminal justice system in order to deliver a comprehensive service for all volunteers. We will endeavour to enhance partnerships and provide a service which assists the management of schemes, advances training and role development for all involved.”
Ian Smith OBE
Chief Executive, ICVA
The faces of ICVA
Ian Smith OBE
Scottish Scheme Administrator