PCC praises custody volunteers for their important role in the criminal justice system


This week is National Volunteers’ Week and Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne has praised the dedicated work of the 70+ strong volunteers who visit custody centres across the county to observe and report on the conditions they find and to check on the welfare of detainees.

Mrs Bourne said: “The role of the Independent Custody Visitor is becoming more important, with volunteers in the front line of the public holding the police to account.

“Trust in our police is essential and I am committed to keeping standards high in Sussex. People need to feel confident in their police force. They need to be assured that the police act with integrity and impartiality, that people are treated fairly, professionally and according to their needs. Independent Custody Visitors have an important role in getting this message out to the wider community.

“I really appreciate the dedication with which ICVs do their job, giving up evenings and weekends to go into police custody centres in order to check on the welfare of detainees, providing independent oversight of what is happening behind closed doors to people when they are at their most vulnerable.

“In Sussex, volunteers also monitor public place CCTV footage – ensuring that the cameras are used in a manner which stands up to scrutiny, and ensuring the police are accountable to the very people they aim to protect.”
Seventy nine-year-old retired auctioneer, Ian Porter from Hastings said: “I have been an Independent Custody Visitor for 16 years.

“I have volunteered with vulnerable adults throughout my career and felt I could bring my understanding and knowledge to the role and into custody.

“I became an ICV when I was newly retired, as I had time on my hands and wanted to do something for the local community. I already had connections with the police as chair of the local Police/Community Consultative Committee, so becoming an ICV was a natural choice.

“In my opinion the ICVs have a very important role to play, in ensuring that the detainees are fully aware of their rights and are humanely treated by the custody staff. With my varied background, I feel that I have learnt to be impartial and to deal with any problem that has arisen during a visit with fairness and integrity.”

Barbara Davidson, a 40-year-old freelance journalist from Brighton said: “I’ve just completed my first year as an ICV. I’d not heard of role before then, but it fitted perfectly with my desire to be involved in the criminal justice process without necessarily being part of the system.

“I’m a journalist and think it helps to have an ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, whether that be detainees, police officers or ICV colleagues.

“The role takes up very little of my time but it really feels like I’m doing something worthwhile.”

Mrs Bourne continued: “I would like to pay tribute to all volunteers who help make Sussex a safer place to live and I would encourage as many people as possible who can spare some time to volunteer for the community they live in.

“If you are interested in becoming an ICV then please email my office SPCC@sussex-pcc.gov.uk.”

The Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner received the national ‘Investing in Volunteers’ award in October 2012.

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