Custody Visiting

Objective

The purpose of the Scheme is to enable volunteer members of the local community to observe, comment and report on the conditions under which persons are detained at police stations. These arrangements also provide an independent check on the way police offices carry out their duties with regard to detained persons and therefore increase public confidence in these matters.

The Scheme

  • The Scheme is operated by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for   West Yorkshire, a body independent of West Yorkshire Police.
  • Custody Visitors are volunteers.
  • All custody visits are undertaken in pairs.
  • Custody Visitors are expected to make a minimum of 24 visits per year (as far as possible spread evenly throughout the year).
  • Custody Visitors are encouraged to make visits anytime during the day or night.
  • All custody visits are made without prior notice to the custody suites.
  • Custody Visitors can visit any of the 6 principal custody suites within West Yorkshire.

Visiting Arrangements

Although Custody Visitors may be directed to visit specified Police Stations on rostered visits, in the majority of cases they can choose when and where to visit.

On arrival in the custody suite, Custody Visitors speak to the custody staff about the people being detained. Custody Visitors can only speak to detainees who agree to speak to them. The discussions with the detainees focus upon their welfare, rights and entitlements during their detention and the Custody Visitors can take up issues on the detainees' behalf.

Custody Visitors also inspect and report on the conditions of cells, detention rooms, medical rooms, washing and kitchen areas, exercise yards and the operation of CCTV systems.  

Appointment of Custody Visitors

Applicants are appointed for a 3-year period and must:-

  • Reside or work in the county of West Yorkshire.
  • Be over 18 years of age (at the time of appointment).

Applications will not be considered from the following:

People who are currently:-

(a) a Justice of the Peace in West Yorkshire; or
(b) an Officer of a Police Force (including serving members of the Special Constabulary and support staff employees); or
(c) an officer of the Probation Service, the Prison Service and the Crown Prosecution Service

Applications may be considered from the following:

People who have previously been:

(a) a Justice of the Peace in West Yorkshire; or
(b) an Officer of a Police Force (including members of the Special Constabulary and support staff employees); or
(c) an officer of the Probation Service, the Prison Service and the Crown Prosecution Service

If you have any concerns about your eligibility, please contact the Scheme Administrator.

Application is by completion of an application form, including an equal opportunities monitoring questionnaire. If you are shortlisted you will be asked to attend for a short interview.

All applicants selected for appointment will be vetted in accordance with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire's vetting procedures.

Click here to view the Profile of Current Custody Visitors.

Training

All newly appointed Custody Visitors are required to undertake the following training prior to taking up their custody visiting duties:-

  • A one-day training course (held on a Saturday in Wakefield). The course is designed to equip Custody Visitors with the knowledge and skills to be effective in carrying out their role.
  • Session on the administrative arrangements of the scheme (evening).
  • Visit to a custody suite (evening).
  • Completion of two custody visits in the company of experienced Custody Visitors.

In addition to the initial training, Custody Visitors are required to attend training seminars and meetings held during their period of appointment.

Additional Information

  • Independent Custody Visitors are issued with an Independent Custody Visiting Handbook setting out the Objectives and Guidelines of the Scheme.
  • Custody Visitors are eligible to claim travelling expenses whilst undertaking Custody Visiting duties. If the Custody Visitor does not have a car then bus and/or train fares will be claimed.
  • A flat rate payment is paid to each Independent Custody Visitor in recognition of telephone expenses incurred whilst making arrangements with colleague Independent Custody Visitors to undertake custody visits.

Scheme Administrator Contact Details

ICV Scheme Administrator

Email:contact@westyorkshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk

Tel: 01924 294000 

History

Following an enquiry into the Brixton and Toxteth Disorders in 1981, Lord Scarman's report recommended that random checks be made by persons other than police officers on interview and detention of suspects in police custody.

Following successful pilots, the West Yorkshire Independent Custody Visiting Scheme was introduced in 1983.

A number of changes to the operation of the Scheme have been made over the years; most recently, Section 51 of the Police Reform Act 2002 placed custody visiting on a statutory footing

In preparing the Scheme, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire has had regard to the Code of Practice on Independent Custody Visiting issued by the Home Office under section 51(6) of the Act

Recruitment

If you are interested in applying to be an Independent Custody Visitor, please contact the Scheme Administrator with your name details.  We will contact you at the start of our next recruitment campaign.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2012.