Suffolk PCC hosts Independent Custody Visitors’ conference

Independent Custody Visitors from across the eastern region attended their annual conference, this year hosted by the Suffolk PCC’s office at Police Headquarters in Martlesham. (Saturday 6 April)

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore welcomed 50 independent custody visitor volunteers from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk to the event.

Tim Passmore said, “Ensuring that people in police custody are treated properly is a statutory duty of all Police and Crime Commissioners. We rely on volunteers to help us monitor the welfare of people who are detained in police stations in each of the force areas. Their support is invaluable.”

In Tim Passmore’s introduction to the conference he acknowledged the importance of protecting vulnerable people and thanked the volunteers for their work.

Talking after the event he said, “Custody visitors play a crucial role. They visit the custody centres without warning 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 I thank them for their commitment which does not always receive the recognition it deserves.”

During the day, Chief Insp Lou Provart, Head of Custody for Norfolk and Suffolk provided an update on custody and progress in addressing the recommendations from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) / Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) inspection in May 2018.

Katie Kempen, Chief Executive of the Independent Custody Visiting Association, explained the importance of the custody visitors process and how the findings helped to inform and shape policy and legislation. Volunteers also heard from Suffolk Constabulary’s personal safety trainer, Neil Wilson about use of force, focusing on the importance of careful and thorough searching of detainees coming into custody and ongoing management of risk. The volunteers were encouraged to observe the use of force training in their own county where possible.

Dan Chapelle, Clinical Team Leader of Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Suffolk Liaison and Diversion Service spoke about the support and signposting the Liaison and Diversion service provide to detainees in custody and beyond where necessary. The main themes of the day were detainee vulnerability and dignity and it was very interesting to hear the volunteers share their individual experiences.

If you are over 18 and looking to volunteer for something different, then why not find out more about being an Independent Custody Visitor on the PCC’s website,

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