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A typical visit to their local police station by Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs)  to check on how those held in custody are being treated.

Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).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

A typical visit

Photograph of a typical visitCarol and Ahmed are ICVs in the borough where they live. As part of the local panel they take it in turns with their colleagues to visit the local police station and check how those held in custody are being treated. The ICVs make an unannounced visit once a week at any time of the day or night.

On this visit Carol and Ahmed show their identity cards at the front desk and are promptly taken through to the custody area.

Carol and Ahmed discuss with the custody staff on duty whether there is anything important they need to be aware of before they start their visit. The custody sergeant tells them there are six people in custody, three male adults held under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act), one female juvenile and two male immigration detainees. Once Carol and Ahmed feel fully briefed they are escorted around the custody area and detainees are offered the chance to speak with them to discuss their treatment while in custody. Carol and Ahmed aren’t told the names of any detainees or why they’re there; confidentiality and impartiality are maintained at all times.

In cell 3 the detainee says he is thirsty and a little cold, but he says he has seen a solicitor and spoken to his girlfriend. The juvenile in the next cell asks to speak with her Mother again and one of the immigration detainees speaks enough English to say that he’s ok but wishes to know when he will be leaving. Carol and Ahmed note down the requests and concerns and pass this information on to the custody staff who deal with most of the issues before the visit is even over. The other people in custody decline a visit.

Once the ICVs have spoken to those who wish to see them, they also check vacant cells, stores and other detainee facilities to make sure that they are clean, safe and well kept. If there’s anything that needs to be verified or actioned, Carol and Ahmed pass these issues or concerns on to the custody staff. They complete a short report form, a copy of which is left at the station at the end of their visit for the custody manager to see and feedback on anything that couldn’t be resolved during the visit. Another copy of the report is forward to the police authority so that the visit and any issues can be recorded and monitored.

Carol and Ahmed leave the custody suite and the police station about an hour after they first arrived.

The Custody manager attends the panel’s next bi-monthly meeting and brings responses to the issues that the ICVs left for the police to resolve or follow up.

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