CHESHIRE Police are looking for volunteers to scrutinise the conditions in which people who have been detained in custody are kept.

An Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) scheme has been launched by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure the welfare of detainees and transparency within the police.

There are currently three custody suites operated by Cheshire Police in Blacon (Chester), Runcorn and Middlewich. ICVs make unannounced visits and speak with detainees, ensuring that they have received access to things they are entitled to including food and drink, solicitors and appropriate adults, and phone calls.

As well as speaking to people in custody, ICVs speak to staff at the custody suite and health care professionals in order to ensure the overall environment is suitable to ensure detainee welfare.

As a result of their observations on custody suite visits, ICVs are able to make recommendations which require the police to improve their detainee welfare processes and standards. They are in a unique position to influence the way Cheshire Constabulary operates and assist the Commissioner in holding the police to account.

Visits are always conducted in pairs on a rota basis, meaning ICVs will carry out visits with different people. They can be arranged at the convenience of the ICVs carrying out the visit and will typically take an hour to complete. Initial training is provided, as well as any follow-up training an ICV feels they may need.

Ian Berry, Independent Custody Visitor, said:

When I retired, I wanted to remain mentally active and be involved in something different from the work I had done in my career I also recognised that interaction with people had been an important and enjoyable feature in my life and volunteering presented an opportunity for me to maintain this.

“This is a great opportunity to do something different, interesting and rewarding. If you work, it will give you a change from the day to day work. If you don’t work, it will provide an activity to enhance your life, using your valuable skills and experience. I would encourage anyone to give it a try!”

For further information about the scheme and how to get involved visit the Cheshire Police website.

Applications must be received by 23.59 on Sunday, March 10.