Recent Developments in Custody
Visiting
13th November 2010
Ian Smith OBE
Disorders – 1980’s
Disorders – 1980’s
 The revised Codes of Practice & their implications
The current role of ICVs
The implications of independent custody visiting being
a national preventative mechanism (NPM) under
Optional Protocols Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)
and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Currently, ICVs are asked to check:
 That rights and entitlements have been offered to
detainees
The health and wellbeing of detainees
The conditions and facilities in which detainees are
held.
Introduction
1. This Code of Practice on independent custody visiting is issued in accordance
with section 51(6) of the Police Reform Act 2002. Police services, police authorities
and independent custody visitors shall have regard to the Code in carrying out their
relevant functions.
2. Independent custody visiting is the well established system whereby volunteers
attend police stations to check on the treatment of detainees and the conditions in
which they are held and that their rights and entitlements are being observed. It
offers protections and confidentiality to detainees and the police and reassurance
to the community at large.
Organisation and Infrastructure
4. Section 51(1) of the Police Reform Act 2002 places the responsibility for
organising and overseeing the delivery of independent custody visiting with police
authorities, in consultation with chief officers.
Recruitment and Conditions of Service
The Recruitment Process
9. Recruitment must be based on clear role descriptions, as well as person
specifications setting out the qualities independent custody visitors require to carry out
their role effectively.
11. All selections must be made on the basis of a standard application form with
adjustments based on local circumstances.
12. No person shall be appointed as an independent custody visitor without an
interview taking place. The selection panel must record the reasons for decisions about
appointment or non-appointment. Any appointment is subject to vetting or security
clearance for all custody visitors (to an appropriate level as determined by the
Home Office, which will be at Secret (SC) level for those visiting persons
detained under the Terrorism Acts). Vetting renewal must be undertaken for all
visitors before their appointments are renewed (see paragraph 23 below).
13. Any appointment must be made solely on merit and all independent custody
visitors must be at least 18 years old and must be from those living or working
within the police authority boundary and who have been resident in the UK for at
least 2 years prior to the date of application.
Who Should be Selected?
15. All reasonable adjustments must be made to accommodate those with a
disability, as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and those who do
not have English as their first language but who are able to communicate effectively
so as to be understood, where they are considered suitable candidates.
17. Where an applicant has convictions for criminal offences, or has received any
formal caution, warning or reprimand, or has failed to disclose any such finding, the
specific circumstances must be considered in assessing suitability to become an
independent custody visitor. However, past offending is not an automatic barrier to
acceptance. The police authority is responsible for all appointments of
custody visitors. The chief officer should provide advice to enable the
authority to make a decision with regard to the suitability of each applicant.
The police authority should be informed by the chief officer as to the
reason(s) for recommending that a volunteer should not be appointed.
18. In appointing independent custody visitors, care must be taken to avoid any
potential conflict of interest. For example, serving police officers and other serving
members of police or police authority staff will be unsuitable for that reason. The
same will apply to special constables, justices of the peace and members of the
police authority. All other applications must be considered on their merit.
Other Possible Roles for Custody Visitors
19. Independent custody visitors may also act as appropriate adults. However,
individuals must not switch between those roles during the course of a visit to the
same police station and must declare if they have previously carried out
either role with the same detainee.
Removal
24. A police authority can terminate an independent custody visitor’s appointment
because of misconduct or poor performance.
25. Procedures for considering possible termination of appointment must follow
the principles of natural justice and must be publicised.
Working arrangements
Conducting visits
35. Visits must be undertaken by pairs of independent custody visitors working
together.
37. Independent custody visitors must have access to all parts of the custody area and
to associated facilities such as food preparation areas and medical rooms. However, it
is not part of their role to attend police interviews with detainees. Custody visitors will
be allowed access to CCTV cameras to ensure that they are operational.
38. Police staff must be alert to any specific health or safety risks independent custody
visitors might face and must advise them appropriately at the commencement of the
visit.
39. The custody officer or a member of custody staff must accompany independent
custody visitors during visits (but see paragraph 46).
Access to Detainees
40. Subject to the exceptions referred to in paragraph 43, independent custody visitors
must be allowed access to any person detained at the police station. However,
detainees may only be spoken to with their consent, and the escorting officer is
responsible for establishing whether they wish to speak to the independent custody
visitors, which may be established by self-introduction by the independent custody
visitors themselves (in the presence of the escorting officer) or by the escorting
officer.
41. Juveniles may be spoken to with their own consent.
42. If, for whatever reason, a detainee is not in a position to give consent, the escorting
officer must allow the visit unless any of the circumstances set out in paragraph 43
apply.
43. The custody officer may limit or deny independent custody visitors’ access to a
specific detainee only if authorised by an officer of or above the rank of inspector and
where either:
i) after a thorough risk assessment has been carried out the officer reasonably
believes that to be necessary for the visitors’ safety, or
ii) if the officer reasonably believes that such access could interfere with the
process of justice.
Reporting on a Visit
58. At the end of each visit, and while they are still at the police station, independent
custody visitors must complete a report of their findings to include conditions and
facilities, rights and entitlements and health and well being. One copy of the report must
remain at the station for the attention of the officer in charge. Copies must go to the
police authority and other parties as determined locally.
Feedback
61. The police authority is responsible for drawing together issues and identifying
trends emerging from visits in their area and addressing these with relevant police
supervisors.
62. The police authority must have a regular and formal opportunity to raise concerns
and issues with a designated senior officer with force-wide responsibilities. It will usually
be appropriate for that officer to be of Assistant Chief Constable/Commander rank.
Regular reports shall be provided by the administrator of the scheme to the police
authority. These reports must be discussed at police authority meetings as appropriate
and reflected in an entry about independent custody visiting in the police authority’s own
annual report.
Currently, ICVs are asked to check:
 That rights and entitlements have been offered to
detainees
The health and wellbeing of detainees
The conditions and facilities in which detainees are
held.
ABSOLUTE RIGHTS
(may be delayed but must always be
granted)
 LEGAL ADVICE
 HAD SOMEONE INFORMED
 NOTIFIED OF THEIR RIGHTS
 TO CONSULT THE CODES OF
PRACTICE
ENTITLEMENTS (through negotiation)
 RECEIVED ANY VISITS
 NEEDED MEDICAL ATTENTION
 ADEQUATE EXERCISE
 ADEQUATE FOOD & DRINK
 SPECIAL DIETARY REQS.
 WASHING FACILITIES
 TOILET FACILITIES
 ADEQUATE BEDDING
 TREATED REASONABLY
 8 HOURS REST IN 24
 REPLACEMENT CLOTHING
ACCOMMODATION Cell No:
 REASONABLE TEMPERATURE
 REASONABLE VENTILATION
 CELLS CLEAN
 ALARM BUTTON WORKING
 ADEQUATE LIGHTING
 LEGAL AID NOTICES
 TOILETS WORKING
 REPAIRS NEEDED
 STOCKS REPLENISHED
 OTHER PROBLEMS
 GENERAL NOTES …….
What is the role of ICVs?
PACE
checkers
Human
Rights
monitors
Are ICVs in danger of hitting
targets but missing the point? –
the human rights of detainees !!
NPMs and the Role of ICVA
The Independent Custody Visiting Association is now
one of the national prevention mechanisms (NPMs)
which underpin the UK’s OPCAT protocols. It means
that visits made locally can also impact on national and
international human rights developments
The Crucial Role of NPMs
 NPMs are now the eyes and
ears on the ground of the
prevention of torture due to
their permanent presence in
the country;
 NPMs will conduct constant
monitoring of detention
facilities, comment on existing
or draft legislation, engage in
ongoing dialogue with the state
authorities and assess
progress.
ABSOLUTE RIGHTS
(may be delayed but must always be
granted)
 LEGAL ADVICE
 HAD SOMEONE INFORMED
 NOTIFIED OF THEIR RIGHTS
 TO CONSULT THE CODES OF
PRACTICE
LEGAL ADVICE
“A duty solicitor scheme operated and consultations
took place in private. Solicitors were positive about
how staff treated them and detainees.”
“Custody records contained several examples where
an appropriate adult was needed, but attendance had
not been recorded.”
HAD SOMEONE INFORMED
“Details of rights and entitlements were available in a
range of languages, but not large print.
Detainees were offered a free telephone call, although
these could not be made in private.”
NOTIFIED OF THEIR RIGHTS (1)
“Detainees were not told how to make a complaint and
could not do so while in custody”
“Copies of the rights and entitlements leaflet were
available in several languages from the intranet and
foreign nationals were asked if they wished their
embassy or consulate to be informed of their situation.
Official interpreters were also used, but a number of
custody records that indicated the detainee had
difficulty understanding English did not record that an
interpreter had been used.”
NOTIFIED OF THEIR RIGHTS (2)
“A German man being booked in repeatedly said he
could not understand what was being said and could
not read English well. Despite this, the booking in and
risk assessment were conducted in English and he was
asked to read and sign several sheets of information
without help from an interpreter or telephone
interpreting service. He was given a copy of the rights
and entitlement leaflet in German.”
TO CONSULT THE CODES OF PRACTICE
“Up-to-date copies of the PACE codes of practice were
offered to detainees.”
“……….complaints from detainees were not taken while
they were held in custody. This could have been
suppressing the number of complaints and meant that
the senior management team had a potentially overly
optimistic view of custody performance based on the
number of complaints received. Staff said detainees
were mainly told they could complain at the front desk
when they left custody.”
ENTITLEMENTS (through negotiation)
 RECEIVED ANY VISITS
 NEEDED MEDICAL ATTENTION
 ADEQUATE EXERCISE
 ADEQUATE FOOD & DRINK
 SPECIAL DIETARY REQS.
 WASHING FACILITIES
 TOILET FACILITIES
 ADEQUATE BEDDING
 TREATED REASONABLY
 8 HOURS REST IN 24
 REPLACEMENT CLOTHING
RECEIVED ANY VISITS
“Staff said detainees could not have visitors.”
NEEDED MEDICAL ATTENTION
“The vast majority of FMEs on the rotas were male and
although it was reported that female detainees could
ask to see a female doctor, in practice this could not be
accommodated.”
ADEQUATE EXERCISE
“Neither suite had an exercise yard. Detainees at
…………. were sometimes taken to the small caged area
at the emergency exit for fresh air depending on how
busy the suite was and the availability of staff as
detainees had to be supervised at all times. In our
survey, only one detainee said they had been offered
outside exercise.”
ADEQUATE FOOD & DRINK
“ Detainees were asked about dietary requirements on
arrival and three meals a day were provided by the staff
canteens. Meals were substantial, but detainees were not
usually offered a choice beyond a meat or vegetarian option.”
“Meals were brought from the canteen in Styrofoam
containers, but food temperatures were not taken at the point
of service and some meals were barely warm by the time they
reached detainees. Gaolers said they sometimes reheated
meals in the microwave.”
“Outside recognised meal times, detainees were offered
microwave meals. The size of these meals was small and
gaolers at ……. said they frequently offered detainees two at
the same time.”
“Detainees were offered a hot drink or water with their meals
and regularly throughout the day.”
SPECIAL DIETARY REQS.
“Vegetarian and vegan diets were catered for, but there
was no guarantee that the meat was halal or free from
cross-contamination with non-halal products.”
“…….. had a good supply of different meals catering for
a range of dietary and religious needs, but …………l had
only three options available, none of which was halal.”
“By arrangement, the society for the welfare of Jewish
prisoners supplied Kosher food to any Orthodox Jewish
detainee. Information on this service was available in
both suites, but the gaoler at ………… was unaware of it.”
WASHING FACILITIES
“The one shower at ………. Had no door or partition. It
was behind a wall, but anyone in the changing area was
in full view of the communal area. There was no seating
and nowhere to put clothes while showering.”
“Shampoo and soap was available, but the only towels
were large sheets of paper towel, which were
inadequate and disintegrated.”
“In our survey, no one said they had been offered a
shower. The custody record of one detainee who had
arrived on 20 February 2009 showed that he had
requested a shower at 2.13pm on 21 February and was
eventually allowed one at 9.30am on 22 February.”
TOILET FACILITIES
“All cells had integral sanitation, but no hand washing
facilities.”
“ The toilet areas at …….. were not screened, but spy
holes were covered. Cells covered by CCTV had the
toilet area excluded from view.”
“Many cells had toilet paper and we saw detainees
being given this when located in a cell. Some DDOs told
detainees to use the call bell if they needed more toilet
paper or to wash their hands, but others did not.”
“At ………, there was no soap dispenser or soap by the
sink even though there were supplies of soap in the
store cupboard.”
ADEQUATE BEDDING
“All cells contained a wipe clean mattress and pillow.
DDOs at ……. cleaned these with a wet wipe after each
use, but PC gaolers at both suites were unaware that
they should do so. Any damaged or obviously soiled
mattress or pillow was replaced. There were adequate
supplies of clean blankets and these were given to
detainees on request. Used blankets were stored
separately and laundered before re-use.”
TREATED REASONABLY
“Women were not routinely given hygiene packs. The
DDOs and some PC gaolers said they would ask female
detainees if they required sanitary products when
locating them in a cell, but others said they assumed
women would ask if they needed them.”
“……… had no books or magazines and ………… had
only a few paperbacks. We did not see any detainee
being offered a book, but staff sometimes offered
detainees their newspapers. In our survey, only one
detainee said they had been offered something to
read.”
REPLACEMENT CLOTHING
“Paper suits were used at …….. when clothes were
removed and no underwear was provided.”
“Custody sergeants at ……..said detainees could
arrange for family or friends to bring in replacement
clothing, but the custody sergeant at ……….. said this
was not possible because there were insufficient staff
to search items brought in.”
Currently, ICVs are asked to check:
 That rights and entitlements have been offered to
detainees
The health and wellbeing of detainees
The conditions and facilities in which detainees are
held.
If we refocused our visits this way would we become
more effective and would we and the police get more out
of independent custody visiting?:
 The health and wellbeing of detainees
Challenge
The conditions and facilities in which detainees are
held
Challenge
That rights and entitlements have been offered to
detainees.
Challenge
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