Gwent’s Independent Custody Visiting Scheme has this week received an award from the national Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA).
The scheme, made up of nine volunteers, has been praised for its work monitoring the welfare of detainees within the two Gwent Police custody units.
Chair of the scheme and longest current serving member, Justin Johnstone, spoke of his pride following the announcement: “On behalf of my fellow volunteers, it is an honour to receive this award for our work as independent custody visitors (ICVs).
“Throughout my nine years on the scheme, I have been overwhelmed by the commitment shown by each and every volunteer.
“Often, those who end up in police custody are very vulnerable, so it’s important for them to know that there are people looking after them and their rights.”
ICVs make unannounced weekly visits to police custody to check on the rights, entitlements, well-being and dignity of detainees held in police custody. They then report their findings to the Police and Crime Commissioner who holds the Chief Constable to account.
Praising his volunteers, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “I am delighted that my independent custody visitors are receiving national recognition for their hard work and commitment.
“They are independent members of our communities who play a crucial role in monitoring the standards of custody and the treatment of detainees within.
“I would like to personally thank all of our volunteers for the time and commitment they give.”
ICVA is the national organisation which supports, leads and represents locally-run custody visiting schemes.
Katie Kempen, chief executive at ICVA, said: "Independent custody visiting schemes ensure that the public have oversight of a high pressure and often hidden area of policing.
“These awards demonstrate how local schemes use volunteer feedback to make change and ensure that police custody is safe and dignified for all. I congratulate schemes on their accomplishments."
If you would like to know more about the Gwent ICV scheme, visit http://bit.ly/GwentICVs