PCC welcomes commitment to equality and diversity in police custody


Merseyside's Police Commissioner and the Chair of her Independent Custody Visiting Association scheme have today welcomed Just Visiting? - a report published today on tackling race and gender inequalities in police custody.

The report has been published by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) and the Criminal Justice Alliance and explores the effectiveness of Independent Custody Visitors at monitoring race and gender equality in police custody.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell is a Director of ICVA and also a national lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) on Mental Health and Custody.

She said: “Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are a crucial part of my scrutiny mechanism. They carry out random, unannounced visits to police custody suites to check on the welfare and wellbeing of detainees.

“I therefore welcome this report which demonstrates the Independent Custody Visiting Association’s (ICVA) ongoing commitment to ensuring ICV schemes across the country are focussed on equality and diversity and recognise where disproportionality is having an impact.

“The publication of this report, and the recommendations it sets out, shows just how determined ICVA is to challenge potential discrimination at every level of its work and to ensure scheme managers and ICVs are alive to any issues and prepared to challenge them.

“It is greatly reassuring to read of the strong dedication among ICVs to overcoming barriers to improve their effectiveness. This is something I see first-hand within our own volunteers.

“We can never rest on our laurels though and, as a Director of ICVA, I am passionate about ensuring this action plan is embedded across all schemes and particularly here in Merseyside.

“I am currently recruiting for new ICVs and the recommendations set out in this report will be at the forefront of the training they receive. I will work closely with our ICV Chair to ensure we keep these issues in the spotlight and proactively engage with groups who may be affected to make sure their voices are at the heart of our work.”

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are members of the local community who make unannounced visits and observe, comment and report to the Police Commissioner on the conditions under which people are detained in force custody suites.

ICVs determine whether the regulations governing detention have been complied with, and the interests of detainees properly considered.

Chair of the ICV scheme in Merseyside Ruth Rogers said: “Independent custody visitors recognise that people in custody can be very vulnerable and that their rights must be protected, it’s part of why we take on the role. We also need to make sure we understand those characteristics that make some people even more vulnerable and do all we can to address inequalities.

“There are immediate things we can and will do such as looking at our report forms and training and we would welcome applications to become custody visitors from as wide a range of people as possible.

“This is a timely and helpful report and we look forward to improving our scheme in response to it.”

Read the report