Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).
See the MOPC website for further information.
Independent Custody Visitors in more detail
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are ordinary members of the local community appointed to make sure that the welfare of people detained in police stations is maintained.
They call at police stations unannounced and write short reports about their visit. Their recommendations can require the police to make improvements for the welfare of detainees.
They play a valuable role in maintaining public confidence in this important area of policing.
They work as part of a local Panel and help the MPA, which oversees custody visiting in London, to make sure that detainees are treated well.
What do Independent Custody Visitors do?
Once a week two visitors from a local panel attend a police station at a random, unannounced time to make an inspection and speak to detainees. On arrival at the police station, visitors are escorted to the custody area where they interview a number of detainees in their cells and complete a structured report form. For the visitors’ protection interviews are normally carried out within sight, but out of hearing, of the escorting police officer.
Strict rules of confidentiality apply. Detainees are identified only by their custody numbers, and the details of what visitors see and hear must also be treated as confidential. It is equally important that independent custody visitors maintain their independence and impartiality and do not become involved or take sides. They are there to look, listen and report on conditions in the custody facility.
The report form completed after each visit provides an insight into the running of the custody facility, and the conditions under which the detainees there at the time are being held, including the provision of their rights and entitlements. Copies of the reports are provided for the police, police authority and the visitors’ local panel for discussion and follow up.
ICVs are expected to attend local borough panel meetings every 4-8 weeks to discuss the visits they and colleagues have made. Their reports, which provide a vital source of information on the rights, entitlements and environmental conditions, in which detainees are held, are analysed and any areas of concern are highlighted for action.
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