What do Custody Visitors do?
Pairs of volunteers arrive at police custody suites unannounced and are given immediate access to the custody area. They check on the conditions of the cells and custody suite and speak to detainees to ensure that their rights, entitlements, welfare and dignity are being met. Visitors complete a written report after each visit to provide a record of their observations and any concerns.
Any problems are resolved with the Custody Sergeant at the time of the visit and/or are reported to the Commissioner’s team and discussed at quarterly panel meetings.
Visitors are not concerned with why detainees are in custody or their identity and must respect confidentiality at all times.
Why is it important?
Custody visiting provides public reassurance that custody is safe locally and at a national level contributes to the UK’s human rights obligations. Police forces welcome the role of the custody visitors to give them an independent insight into their custody suites, providing an independent extra set of ‘ears and eyes’ which can help to improve services.
Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer:
“The Independent Custody Visitors initiative is a fantastic example of how the communities of the South Wales area assist us in ensuring that we provide the best possible service to those detained. It allows us, as an organisation, to not only hear the views of independent visitors, but also feedback the work that is subsequently done in response to their observations. The custody visitors give up their own time to perform this very important role and we are extremely grateful for their knowledge and expertise.”
We currently have 32 custody visitors in South Wales split into two panel areas:
Each custody suite is visited at least once a week.
The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA)
The Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales is a member of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), the support organisation for custody visiting across Wales and all the UK. The ICVA work closely with local schemes and with the Home Office and other national organisations and individuals concerned with ensuring safety and good practice in detention.
Dyfed Powys, Gwent and South Wales Police Independent Custody Visiting Schemes alternate in sending a representative to ICVA’s National Expert Forum and board.
How are volunteers recruited ?
See adverts on this website when we are recruiting new volunteer members for either of our custody visiting panels. Applications may also be made at any time and help on our reserve list.
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