PCC visits custody suites to see first-hand the work of volunteers

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner joined the chair of her Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme as he carried out a night-time visit to two police stations to check on the welfare of detainees this weekend.

Jane Kennedy accompanied volunteer ICV Advisor Reverend Peter Beaman as he carried out unannounced visits to the custody suites at St Anne Street and Birkenhead police stations on Friday night.

This was the second time the Commissioner has joined the ICVs to witness their work and meet the staff in the custody suites.

The Commissioner is responsible for the ICV scheme, which see volunteers make random visits to custody suites across Merseyside every week to check on the conditions and make sure those who are being kept in the cells are being treated with dignity and respect.

There are currently 33 dedicated volunteers on Merseyside’s ICV scheme and last year they carried out a total of 290 visits speaking to more than 1,850 detainees. Rev. Beaman has been involved in the scheme since 1985 and he invited the Commissioner to join him as he carried out the Friday night visit.

Jane said: “Our Independent Custody Visitors give up their free time to visit police stations at all times of the night and day so they can go and check on the welfare on those who are being kept in the cells.

“They carry out an important public duty which provides reassurance to those detainees, who are potentially vulnerable, as well as to the public, the police and to me.

“I was delighted to accompany Rev. Beaman, who has given more than 30 years dedicated service to this scheme, as he carried out one of his regular visits to both St Anne Street and Birkenhead custody suites during what is a peak time for the police.

“It was really interesting to see for myself the essential work our volunteers do and the interaction they have with both the custody sergeants and officers and those who are being kept in the cells.

“Knowing that Rev. Beaman and the other dedicated volunteers are carrying out these visits on a weekly basis gives me peace of mind and helps the public to know that those who are being detained are kept in safe and appropriate conditions and receiving care of the highest standard.”

The ICV scheme was established following the recommendations of Lord Scarman in 1981 after his investigation into the Brixton riots and first began to operate in Merseyside in April 1984, with 20 members of the public being trained as visitors.

Find out more about the scheme here.