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Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).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.

MPA Independent Custody Visiting Scheme Memorandum of Understanding

This Memorandum of Understanding describes the arrangement between the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and you, as an independent custody visitor. Although we ask all volunteers to sign this agreement, Independent custody visitors are volunteers and are not under any contractual obligation to the MPA.

We wish to assure you of our appreciation of your volunteering as an independent custody visitor and will do the best we can to make your experience positive and rewarding.

Part 1: Your role and the organisation

Your role as an independent custody visitor is to carry out unannounced visits to Police stations in order to check and report on the condition and treatment of people being held in Police custody.

This role is designed to enable the MPA to carry out its statutory responsibility under the Police Reform Act 2002 s51 to ensure that an effective custody visiting scheme operates in London.

Custody visiting is governed by the Home Office Codes of Practice (2003), relating to independent custody visiting and a set of National Standards (2004). Independent custody visitors in London should also have regard to MPA guidelines, policies and operating practices.

The MPA is a statutory body, established in 2000 to oversee and scrutinise the police and to ensure that the police are accountable to Londoners.

Independent custody visiting is an important part of the MPA’s function in this respect – providing an important scrutiny and community reassurance function in relation to the welfare of detainees held in police custody in the capital.


The MPA recognises and respects the independence of independent custody visitors whilst performing their duties, and at the same time acknowledges its statutory responsibility for managing the scheme effectively.

Independent custody visitors are independent members of the community at the time of recruitment to the MPA Scheme. It is incumbent on independent custody visitors to maintain independence from the police in carrying out their duties.

The MPA is the body responsible for the management and oversight of the scheme in London and acts as a pan-London liaison between independent custody visitors and the police. Independent custody visitors volunteer for the scheme through the MPA and as such, are required to observe MPA policies and guidance.

Part 2: What the MPA will provide

The MPA commits to the following:

1. Induction, assessment, training and performance

  • To provide induction and training on the purpose and role of independent custody visitors, your role as a visitor and training you need to meet the responsibilities of this role. The London independent custody visitor Handbook will provide more details on the MPA’s role and on independent custody visiting. Further information can also be found on the MPA’s website  and the ICVA (national) website
  • To provide refresher training and ongoing learning opportunities. We believe that ongoing training and development is crucial to the role of the independent custody visitor, as they are required to operate in a complex legal and regulatory context.
  • To provide you, subject to successful vetting clearance, with a security pass which will enable you to gain access to custody suites in police stations .
  • To facilitate an initial six month assessment period, to monitor your performance at regular intervals and to review extensions of appointments

Assessment period

The first six months is considered to be an assessment period . During this time initial training must be completed and number of custody visits must have taken place – more information on the assessment period should be given to you by your panel chair and further details will be found in the ICV Handbook. Once an independent custody visitor passes their assessment period, appointments will be made initially for a three year period and are subject to review by the MPA.

2. Supervision, support and structure

  • To explain the standards we expect for our services and to encourage and support you to achieve and maintain them
  • To provide a local borough operational structure (called a panel) and a named member of the panel with whom you can meet to discuss and review your progress (usually the panel Chair or other member of the panel nominated by the Chair)
  • To provide a named person (usually the ICV Coordinator) in the MPA with whom you can discuss your role and any successes or problem
  • To provide you with relevant polices and guidance to assist you in carrying out your role
  • To do our best to help you develop your role as a independent custody visitor, throughout your time with us
  • To listen to your feedback and to acknowledge and value your contributions

3. Expenses

To repay your expenses in a timely manner, following procedures set out in detail in the Expenses policy (Annex E of the ICV Handbook):

  • Travel to and from your home or work to enable you to carry out visits to detainees and to attend ICV meetings: see the Expenses policy for rules on methods of travel and car mileage allowances
  • Cost of necessary phone calls made in connection with ICV duties - see Expenses policy for details
  • Other out of pocket expenses, as detailed in the Expenses policy

All expense claims must be submitted at least quarterly on the MPA independent custody visitor claim form and accompanied by valid receipts.

4. Health and safety

  • To take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that you can perform your duties as an ICV safely, and to provide adequate information and training in support of our health and safety policy and risk assessment.

5. Insurance

  • To provide adequate insurance cover for independent custody visitors whilst undertaking voluntary work approved and authorised by the MPA

6. Equal opportunities

  •  To ensure that all independent custody visitors are dealt with in accordance with our equal opportunities policy, a copy of which can be found on the MPA website: . A joint MPA/MPS equalities statement is set out in Annex H of the ICV Handbook.

7. Problems 

  • To try to resolve fairly and openly any problems, grievances or difficulties you may have while you are independent custody visitor
  • In the event of an unresolved problem, to offer you an opportunity to discuss the issues in accordance with the appropriate MPA procedures

Part 3: The Independent custody visitor

I agree:

  • To assist the MPA to fulfil its statutory responsibility to provide independent custody visiting in London
  • To adhere to the Home Office Code of Practice surrounding custody visiting and the National Standards and to pay due regard to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), Code C.
  • To perform my role as a independent custody visitor to the best of my ability
  • To treat my fellow independent custody visitors, detainees, the police and MPA staff with due respect and courtesy
  • To observe the MPA’s operating practices, policies and guidelines, including health and safety and equal opportunities, and to abide by these policies, practices and guidelines when visiting detainees
  • To fully complete MPA report forms on each visit and ensure that these are returned to the MPA in a timely manner
  • To maintain confidential information in relation to detainees and the panel /li>
  • To undertake a minimum of 12 custody visits per 12 months, unless an alternative agreement for less visits has been made with my panel and in that case, adhere to that agreement as a minimum
  • To endeavour to attend all panel meetings, and to attend a minimum of two thirds of these meetings
  • To meet the time commitments and minimum standards required as a independent custody visitor and to give reasonable notice so other arrangements can be made when this is not possible
  • To immediately inform the MPA if I receive a caution or am arrested
  • To undertake training as required by the MPA

I understand and accept that due to the level of access I will have to police custody suites, I will be subject to security vetting for this role and will be required to complete a standard security vetting form.

This agreement is binding in honour only, is not intended to be a legally binding contract between us and may be cancelled at any time at the discretion of either party. Neither of us intends any employment relationship to be created either now or at any time in the future.

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