Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner.  
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Custody Volunteers celebrate milestone presentation at ICV Panel Meeting
Long serving volunteers supporting the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner have been recognised for their commitment for their years of service in a special presentation at their half yearly panel meeting. Six Independent Custody Volunteers (ICV’s) were awarded with a certificate as part of the schemes bi-annual meeting to celebrate key milestones in service.

Independent Custody Visiting schemes were set up following a recommendation in the Scarman report into the civil unrest of the 1980’s. The purpose of the schemes is to provide transparency and to increase public confidence in the police service.

 Independent Custody Volunteers visit police stations across Hertfordshire to ensure detainee rights are being upheld, as well as assessing wellbeing and health and auditing the condition of custody suites. The scheme was implemented to offer protection and confidentiality to detainees and the police, as well as reassuring the community at large that the right levels of standards are being upheld.

 Six certificates were issued on the night, four marking ten years of service. A special mention and gifts were presented to two retiring volunteers Lionel Devonish and Keith Cockman, each competing 24 and 28 years’ service respectively. Mr Cockman, 86 year old, has been a part of the scheme since its inception in Hertfordshire. The meeting went on to hear presentations from Shane O’Neill, Detective Chief Inspector from the Custody and Criminal Justice Department and Detention Officer Craig Sadler, who delivered an insightful view into his role and responsibilities in the day to day works of officers in custody.

Currently the ICV scheme here in Hertfordshire have 34 unpaid volunteers who live or work in Hertfordshire, spilt between the county’s two custody suites in Hatfield and Stevenage. ICVs are scheduled to visit each of the suites unannounced; they visit in pairs twice a week, during the day or night, seven days a week. Once on site the volunteers carry out a number of checks and file a report based on their findings for further action.

Administration of the scheme is the responsibility of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, who recruit and train volunteers as well as manage the scheme. Presentation certificates were awarded by Nina Villa, Deputy Chief Executive of the OPCC who thanked all the volunteers for their hard work on behalf of the Commissioner himself.

 Following the presentation, she said: “Our ICV’s play a crucial role in accountability - checking on the rights and welfare of our detainees, conditions of the suite and holding the Custody Inspector to account for any changes that need to be made.

“Volunteers offer unbiased, impartial and independent observations which offer a unique insight into current police procedures. We will soon be recruiting for additional new volunteers to reflect the full demographic of the county and offer a fresh perspective on existing procedure.”

The appreciation of the volunteers work was echoed by Detective Chief Inspector, Shane O’Neill who said: “Custody is a 24/7, 365 day operation in which my staff are dealing with custody detainees who may be at their most vulnerable, confused and potentially dangerous. I welcome and appreciate the work of these volunteers to ensure my staff, our detainees and our suites are providing a correct, considered and consistent service to those who engage with us.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office will be recruiting further ICV’s to add to the existing volunteers in order that the independent visits are maintained in the county. Applications will soon be open on the Commissioner’s website at http://hertscommissioner.org/my-office-herts-pcc#vacancies.