Eight Independent Custody Visitor volunteers from across Staffordshire have been honoured by Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner for their long service to the scheme.
The group have each been part of the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme for 5 years or more, and received a special certificate to mark their achievement from Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Arnold.
Independent custody visiting sees volunteer members of the public visit police custody units to check on the welfare of detainees and the conditions of the suite.
The scheme has been active in Staffordshire for more than 20 years, and currently there are around 44 volunteers who carry out regular visits to the units within the force area. The volunteers form three geographically located panels; the Northern panel covers the Northern Area Custody facility at Etruria, the Southern panel covers Watling Street Custody facility at Gailey, while the Trent Valley area covers Burton Custody facility.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis, said: “I am proud of the success of our independent custody visiting scheme.
“Our volunteers work tremendously hard on behalf of their local communities. They make a difference, not just to people in custody, but in promoting public confidence in the system.’
‘This is essential to making to making Staffordshire safer and these long service awards honour them.’
Sue Arnold, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, said: ‘Our independent custody visitors are a dedicated group of people who ensure that the rights of people detained by the police are being met.’
‘Custody units are not the most pleasant places to visit, so the dedication of this group of volunteers to carry out their role for more than 5 years is outstanding.”
The eight people who received the certificate for 5 years’ service are Anita Griffiths, , Carol Pearson, Ian Scott and Lisa Tunney from the Southern panel; Judith Adams, Sandra Beard, Andrew Carter and Catherine Whitehouse from the Northern panel.
Independent Custody Visitors make unannounced checks of conditions of police cells and the welfare of people in custody.
Visitors work in pairs and can check police cells – where they are granted access to detainees – at any time day or night to make sure custody rules are being observed. They follow a code of conduct and are fully trained before they start.
Volunteers from all walks of life and a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds are sought, along with young people over 18 years of age. Volunteers, who receive training and travel expenses, are expected to make a minimum number of visits a year and regularly attend Panel Meetings.
Anyone who would like more information about joining the scheme should ring Michelle Ryan on 01785 232246 or visit http://www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/independent-custody-visitors/