Independent Custody Visiting

Where it came from

The concept of Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) arose from Lord Scarman’s report on the Brixton disorders in 1981. Lord Scarman recommended that provision be made for random checks by people other than police officers on the interrogation and detention of suspects in police stations. The aim being to promote public confidence in policing by ensuring that policing activity is more publicly accessible, more easily scrutinised and subject to greater questioning and comment.

BTP only has its own custody facilities in London, therefore, the Authority took the decision to form a partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), to use their local ICV panels to service the BTP facilities. Outside of London the BTP has partnership arrangements with Home Office forces to use their custody facilities which are serviced by the ICV panels of the relevant local policing body.

How it works

ICV panels comprise of volunteers who visit police custody facilities, usually in pairs, on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the size of the facility. Visits are, as far as possible, random and unannounced with the volunteers speaking with those being held in police custody to ensure their welfare needs are being met, as well as inspecting the conditions in which detainees are being held. Volunteers then report back to both the police force and authority with any recommendations. BTPA receives quarterly reports from MOPAC to its People and Standards Committee. The reports detail the number of visits carried out in the period reported, when the visits were carried out, and any issues identified, rectified or that remain ongoing. To date the reports have been very positive with no significant issues. BTPA’s Independent Custody Visitor Scheme can be downloaded from here.

Interested in becoming an ICV?

If you are interested in becoming an independent custody visitor please contact your local policing body. A link to the MOPAC site is provided below: