New Year, new challenge? Become a volunteer!

DPCC Cllr Emily Spurrell

MERSEYSIDE’S Deputy Police Commissioner is inviting anyone looking for a new challenge for 2018 to consider becoming an independent custody visitor.

Cllr Emily Spurrell is looking to recruit more volunteers to be part of an important scheme which sees members of the community check on the welfare of people detained in police custody.

The Independent Custody Visiting programme was established following the investigation into the Brixton riots in 1981 and is now the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners to operate in their respective areas across the country.

The scheme sees volunteers undertake random, unannounced visits of police cells to check on the conditions and make sure those being held are being cared for appropriately.

There is currently a committed team of 23 volunteers who dedicate their time to the scheme, but the Deputy Commissioner is now looking to get up to 10 more people involved.

The volunteers visit the region’s custody suites in pairs, at varied times of the night and day, throughout the year. Once on site, they check on the welfare of those detained and the conditions within the suite and produce a report for the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and her Deputy. They can then raise any issues directly with Merseyside Police.

Emily said: “Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) carry out an important public duty which provides reassurance to the public, the police and to me that we are detaining men and women here on Merseyside properly and caring for them appropriately.

“Detainees are potentially vulnerable and visits by our ICV volunteers are a key protection for them and a vital part of our criminal justice system, ensuring their legal entitlements and rights are respected.

“This is an interesting and rewarding role where volunteers can make a real difference within their community and get an insight into how our police system operates. By volunteering for this scheme, people can play their part in promoting the highest standards of policing. This is a fantastic opportunity for people who are looking for a new challenge for the New Year.”

The ICV scheme in Merseyside has been in operation since April 1984, when 20 members of the public were trained as visitors.

Last year, Merseyside’s ICV volunteers made a total of 265 impromptu trips to custody suites in the region, offering to see more than 2,300 detainees.

ICVs must have good observational and thinking skills, strong ethical principles and be able to maintain confidentiality. They should also be comfortable challenging authority if required. Ideally the volunteers will also come from a range of backgrounds, ages and experience.

Volunteers must be over 18 years old and live or work in the Merseyside area. Full training will be given. It is expected that volunteers make one visit a month.

If you are interested in applying, please find a full recruitment pack and all the documents on the PCC’s website at www.merseysidepcc.info

The deadline for applications is Friday, 2nd February 2018.

You can also find out more about the ICV scheme here.