Volunteers praised for overseeing police custody

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“It’s fantastic to see the scheme still working all these years later, and of course I find it very rewarding – I’ve never thought of stopping.”

To celebrate National Volunteers Week 2024, the new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire thanks her team of 24 Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) for their valuable work and commitment to monitoring police custody.

ICVs are volunteers from the local community who check on the welfare of people held in the cells and ensure they are receiving their rights and entitlements. In the last 12 months, the team of volunteers have given more than 380 hours of their free time to ensure police custody is safe and dignified for all. They have made 106 trips between the two custody centres in the county and visited 410 detainees.

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The scheme in Northamptonshire is recognised nationally for its high standards, receiving a Silver Quality Assurance Award in November 2023. Other successes over the last 12 months include Northamptonshire’s longest standing ICV being awarded Runner Up for the Lord Ferrers Longevity Award.

Two ICVs in the door of a custody cellTwo ICVs in the door of a custody cell
Two ICVs in the door of a custody cell

Geraldine Newbrook has been an ICV for almost 40 years and was presented with the Award by the Policing Minister at a ceremony in October 2023.

She said: “It’s not a nice experience for someone to be in custody, but I try to help make it as smooth as possible for them.

“Although we’re still very much independent, I feel like we’ve gained the respect of the people who work in custody over the years, and I respect the difficult job they do. They also know that if we find an issue we will raise it with them so it can be dealt with.

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“It’s fantastic to see the scheme still working all these years later, and of course I find it very rewarding – I’ve never thought of stopping.”

ICV Geraldine Newbrook being presented with the Runner Up for the Lord Ferrers Award from Chris PhilICV Geraldine Newbrook being presented with the Runner Up for the Lord Ferrers Award from Chris Phil
ICV Geraldine Newbrook being presented with the Runner Up for the Lord Ferrers Award from Chris Phil

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners have a statutory duty to maintain an effective ICV scheme to offer transparency and reassurance to the community that custody is being run as it should and that detainees are treated well.

PFCC Danielle Stone said: “I am passionate about involving people where we can, and I am really looking forward to meeting the ICVs. This scheme relies on volunteers and I am extremely grateful for their insight and feedback on an important, high pressured and often hidden area of policing.”

Anyone interested in joining the scheme as a Volunteer can find out more here – Independent Custody Visiting – Northamptonshire Police & Fire Commissioner (northantspfcc.org.uk)