Honouring the exceptional commitment of our volunteers

Independent Custody Visitor

This week marks forty years of Volunteers Week (3-9 June), a national celebration playing tribute to the many community-spirited individuals across the country who contribute their time and efforts through volunteering.

This week, Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, is celebrating the outstanding voluntary work and commitment of those that support the work of her office as well as Merseyside Police, helping to build safer, stronger communities across the region.

As part of this national and local celebration, Emily will present awards at this year’s valuing volunteers ceremony, to honour the fantastic volunteers in recognition of their exceptional commitment to public service.

Among those volunteers, are the PCC’s Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) who perform a vital public duty, ensuring police custody is transparent and making sure those that are being detained are being treated fairly.

ICVs are members of the public who give up their own time to make unannounced visits to police custody suites. They independently deliver checks on detainees to see if they have been treated fairly, with dignity and are held in conditions that are safe.

Last year, our ICVs made 157 unannounced visits to police custody suites across Merseyside checking on the welfare of 692 detainees.

Charlie Hayward, Independent Custody Visitor said: “I have lived in Merseyside for my entire life. My family are from Merseyside, and I really wanted to give back to the community in a way that my skills and experience would allow me to.

“For the past 12-18 months, all ICVs have received training to help deal with people that have differential needs and neurodiversity, and this helps make the custody experience as easy and as smooth as possible.

“This is part of supporting the criminal justice system, your local community and being involved in something which makes a really difficult process easier for people that are essentially just like you or me.”

The Animal Welfare scheme is yet another example of volunteers going above and beyond, which sees dedicated volunteers also make unannounced visits to Merseyside’s Mounted and Kennel sections, to check on the conditions of the dogs and horses that are engaged in police work and ensuring they are being cared for appropriately.

Emily, who is also the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ National Lead for Custody said: “Independent Custody Visitors and Animal Welfare Visitors are a priceless asset to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), effectively serving as the communities' eyes and ears in police care.

“Their observations are key to helping the police improve and serve to strengthen public trust in policing by making sure officers and staff are doing everything they should be.

“These compassionate, community-oriented people, believe in upholding the very highest of standards and I thank them for everything they do and their tireless commitment to the role. Not only are they performing vital work in the world of policing, but they’re also supporting vulnerable people and their communities.

Volunteers also make a huge contribution to Merseyside Police, with 114 Special Constables, 45 Cadets, 200 police support volunteers and 350 Mini Police from 18 schools across Merseyside all supporting the work of the police.

Emily Spurrell added: “We are so fortunate to have such an overwhelming number of volunteers who want to help make our communities a stronger, safer place to live.

“These volunteers really do make such a difference and demonstrate that our region’s community spirit is stronger than ever.”

The Office of The Police and Crime Commissioner is currently taking applications for Independent Custody Visitors. Find out more about becoming an ICV.

Throughout the week, the PCC will be celebrating the work of some of these incredible volunteers through her social media channels.