“Community engagement and the role of custody visitors continue to be recognised by the Home Office, detainees and others as a necessity and will undoubtedly form an important part in national government strategies.” - Aminat Badmus, Home Office
Independent custody visitors have been operating throughout the UK for 16 years, normally working in pairs making regular unannounced visits.
Application forms and information on recruitment are available from local police and crime commissioners. Once recruited, thorough training is provided by local police and crime commissioners, usually in partnership with ICVA.
The role of ICVs continually evolves, with guidance and training provided at each stage. While no formal qualifications are required, the list of key criteria below may be helpful in ensuring impartiality.
ICVA’s Visiting Times magazine keeps visitors and all involved in the process informed of changes and developments, enabling regional sharing of best practice. If you are interested in becoming an independent custody visitor in your area, please contact your local police and crime commissioner.
The Code of Practice on independent custody visiting provides additional information on the visiting process. More details on the role of an independent custody visitor can be found here and a list of frequently asked questions is available here.
Independent custody visitors:
- must be over 18
- must not be justices of the peace, serving police officers or civilian employees; members or staff from police and crime commissioners or special constables
- may have their applications appraised if there appears to be a conflict of interest for people working in other areas of the criminal justice system, such as solicitors and members of the probation service.
- always work as volunteers and only receive out of pocket expenses incurred while carrying out their roles
- must have a good understanding of the English language - or Welsh, where appropriate - as all ICVA guidelines, reporting and recording procedures are available in either English or Welsh.
It should also be noted that having a criminal record or unspent convictions is not an automatic barrier to becoming a custody visitor. Individual circumstances will be assessed against the needs of the post and suitability of the applicant. All appropriate applications from members of the public are considered on their own merits.
Suitable applicants are invited to attend an interview based on the submission of a standard application form to a local police and crime commissioner. Requests for application forms and information on recruitment should be directed to local police and crime commissioners. Contact details are available here.