Independent custody visitors

Independent Custody Visitors

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are members of the local community who volunteer to visit police stations unannounced to check on the treatment and welfare of people held in police custody.

ICV recommendations can require the police to make improvements for the welfare of detainees. Working as part of a local panel, they play a valuable role in maintaining public confidence in this important area of policing by making sure that detainees are treated well.

The London Scheme

An ICV panel operates in every London borough that has an active custody facility. Overall the scheme is made up of over 300 volunteers visiting over 30 custody suites. The London ICV Scheme is a member of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA). Visit the ICVA website for more information.

Custody visiting in London

Each Police and Crime Commissioner has a legal obligation to make arrangements for a custody visiting scheme to operate in its area. In London, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) holds overall responsibility for the scheme’s management and administration. ICVs are volunteers from within the community and the scheme is independent of the police.  

Be a vital part of police custody oversight

Join a dedicated group of volunteers in your borough who visit police custody suites and speak to detainees to ensure fair and equal treatment under the law.

Our volunteer needs

We are currently looking for more volunteers in the following boroughs:

  • Newham
  • Barking & Dagenham
  • Havering
  • Redbridge
  • Islington
  • Ealing
  • Barnet

To apply

MOPAC recruits Londoners from across the capital to the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, and would like to hear from you if you believe you can offer your time and experience to this important role.

To apply complete a copy of the ICV application and monitoring form available below and at the bottom of this page, and email your completed form to us or post it to the address shown on the form.

The Visits

Once a week two visitors from a local panel attend a police station at a random, unannounced time to make an inspection and speak to detainees. On arrival at the police station, visitors are escorted to the custody area where they interview a number of detainees in their cells and complete a structured report form.

For the visitors’ protection interviews are normally carried out within sight, but out of hearing, of the escorting police officer.

Strict rules of confidentiality apply. Detainees are identified only by their custody numbers, and the details of what visitors see and hear must also be treated as confidential. It is equally important that independent custody visitors maintain their independence and impartiality and do not become involved or take sides. They are there to look, listen and report on conditions in the custody facility.

The visit report form (VRF) completed after each visit provides an insight into the running of the custody facility, and the conditions under which the detainees there at the time are being held, including the provision of their rights and entitlements. Copies of the reports are provided for the police, police authority and the visitors’ local panel for discussion and follow up.

Panel Meetings

ICV panels hold their local police to account on behalf of their community. Police representatives attend local meetings of the panel to discuss the ICV reports and address any concerns that have been raised. These meetings assist in rectifying any problems affecting the running of custody and conditions for detainees in the borough.

Recruitment & Eligibility

MOPAC is responsible for recruiting, selecting and appointing all custody visitors and aims to do this from as many different backgrounds and communities as possible to ensure the scheme reflects London’s diversity.

To be eligible to join the MOPAC London Independent Custody Visitor Scheme you must be 18 or over and have no direct involvement in the criminal justice system. For example, serving or retired police officers or staff, special constables or magistrates would not be considered for the role.

Other people such as solicitors or probation officers may also be excluded, to prevent possible conflict of interests for the individual. This maintains the independence of the scheme as a whole.

Appointment as an independent custody visitor is subject to a successful application and interview process. This includes receiving clearance from the Metropolitan Police Service Vetting Department and signing up to MOPAC's Memorandum of Understanding.

Training

Successful applicants will need to attend an initial training course to prepare them for the role, and complete a six-month probationary period in order to be fully accredited.