Suffolk OPCC wins prestigious national award for custody visiting

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Suffolk has won a prestigious national award for the quality of its independent custody visiting scheme.

The inaugural Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA*) Quality Assurance awards were presented at a ceremony at the House of Lords on Wednesday 15 May.

ICVA is the national organisation which supports, leads and represents locally-run custody visiting schemes. Schemes manage teams of independent volunteers who visit those detained in police custody.

Volunteers make unannounced visits to police custody to check on the rights, entitlements, well-being and dignity of detainees held in police custody, reporting their findings to Police and Crime Commissioners and Police Authorities who in turn hold Chief Constables to account.

The Quality Assurance awards were introduced by ICVA to help schemes:
• Reflect on how they comply with the Code of Practice, the legislation that underpins custody visiting.
• Celebrate areas of strength.
• Promote custody visiting and the achievements schemes have made.
• Drive performance and increase sharing of good practice

There were four graded levels of award:
• Code Complaint – Scheme meets statutory requirements and necessary volunteer standards
• Silver – Scheme provides a good standard of custody visiting and volunteer management
• Gold – Scheme provides an excellent standard of custody visiting and volunteer management
• Platinum – Scheme provided an outstanding standard of custody visiting and volunteer management

Within each level, there were more than 25 key areas such as holding the force to account, and requiring evidence to support each assessment**. For Silver and Gold levels, schemes had to get their submissions peer assessed and ICVA assessed each submission for a Platinum award.

Welcoming the award, Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, said: “Custody visitors play a crucial role. They visit the custody centres unannounced to look, listen and report on their findings to the PCC to ensure that the police are providing the service that is expected of them.”

“We have a great team of custody visitors in Suffolk, who give their time to support this valuable service and it is great that their commitment has been recognised with this prestigious national award.”

Martyn Underhill, Chairman of ICVA, said: “These awards recognise the standard of scheme being run in the area, and help drive up the standards of our schemes across the UK. Warm congratulations to all of the winners.”

Katie Kempen, Chief Executive at ICVA said: “Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing. These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that police custody is safe and dignified for all. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments.”

*The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) is a Home Office, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Police Authority funded membership organisation set up to lead, support and represent local independent custody visiting schemes.

**ICVA – What makes a good scheme?

For further information contact:

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk
Suffolk Police Headquarters
Portal Avenue
Telephone: 01473 782774
Website: Independent Custody Visitors – Suffolk