Independent Custody Visitors

Merseyside's Independent Custody Visiting Scheme was established following the recommendations of Lord Scarman in 1981 and is now overseen by the Commissioner.

The Merseyside Custody Visiting Scheme began in April 1984 with 20 members of the then Police Committee being trained as visitors. Later that year, members of the public were invited to apply.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are now exclusively members of the local community who make unannounced visits and observe, comment and report to the Police Commissioner on the conditions under which people are detained at Force Custody Suites.

Visits determine whether the regulations governing detention have been complied with and the interests of detainees properly considered. Volunteers are unpaid but are reimbursed for travelling expenses. Their reports on the outcome of visits are presented to the Police Commissioner for consideration and action.

Reverend Peter Beaman, who has been part of the Scheme since 1985, is Chair of the Independent Custody Visiting scheme. Merseyside currently has 33 dedicated volunteers from across the region involved in this scheme.

These committed volunteers visit custody suites within Merseyside at random and complete a form which covers all aspects of ensuring the detainee’s welfare is being cared for appropriately. Reports which draw together issues and identify trends emerging from the visits are then presented to the Commissioner so that she can then consider action.

You can find out more about custody visiting nationally on the Independent Custody Visiting Association website.

2015/16

From 1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016, results from the reports made during visits across Merseyside showed that a total of 245 custody visits took place. During those visits, 2,436 people detained in custody were offered a visit from an ICV. Of those, 1,469 people consented to be seen.

There are a number of reasons why detained persons are not visited, for example, the custody staff may advise against it for safety reasons. Other reasons for people not being offered a visit include them being in an interview, intoxicated or asleep. During 2015/16, only 26 people declined to be visited by an ICV.

Take a look at the full ICV Annual Report for 2015/16 here.

During this year, four new ICVs were successfully recruited and trained to ensure the scheme continues to have 33 volunteers operating across Merseyside.

Merseyside's custody visitors were among the volunteers who undertook over 9,400 custody visits across the whole of England and Wales in 2015–16, interviewing over 30,000 detainees and monitoring whether their rights and entitlements were granted, their health and wellbeing was safeguarded and the conditions and facilities of detention were adequate.

2014/15

From 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015, results from the reports made during visits across Merseyside showed that a total of 290 custody visits took place. During those visits, 2,828 people were offered a visit from ICVs and over 1,863 (66%) consented. There are a number of reasons why detained persons are not visited, for example, the custody staff may advise against it for safety reasons. Other reasons for people not being offered a visit include them being in an interview, intoxicated or asleep.

Take a look at the full ICV annual report for 2014/15 here.

On 23rd February 2015, a number of ICVs on Merseyside participated in a training session hosted by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA). During the session, ICVs were reminded of the importance of report writing and also took part in a practical exercise aimed at the interrogation of detainees’ custody records.

2015 also marked the 30th anniversary of the Independent Custody Visiting scheme running on Merseyside. Three of our dedicated volunteers have served as ICV’s since members of the public were first invited to join the scheme in 1985. Find out more here.

2013/14

Between 1st April, 2013, and 31st March, 2014, results from the reports made during visits across Merseyside showed that a total of 361 visits took place. During those visits, 3,196 detainees were offered a visit from an ICV with 1,738 (54%) consenting.

On Saturday 21st September, 2013, Jane Kennedy was invited to speak at the North West Regional ICV Conference at Haydock Park. More than 120 people volunteers and organisers from Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and North Wales attended the day event.

Read the Commissioner's speech from this event.

More information

If you would like further information on the ICV scheme please Contact the Office of the Police Commissioner.