9th Dec, 2016

Volunteers needed to spend time in police cells to rate treatment

Shaun Reynolds 1st Dec, 2015 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

THE WEST Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a recruitment drive to source more volunteers from Solihull to become custody visitors.

Every week of the year, people spend time behind bars in police cells across the West Midlands – not for doing anything wrong, but to ensure that those in police custody are being treated fairly.

The UK’s custody visiting scheme was introduced after the Brixton riots of 1981 with the aim of increasing public confidence in the police.

To qualify, volunteers should be over the age of 18, of good character and have no police or legal observations.

Each visit lasts, on average, one hour – volunteers are asked to commit to a visit once every six weeks.

Once trained, the volunteers visit police custody suites unannounced and in pairs, a report is also completed on site and sent to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office to allow him to monitor the scheme.

Volunteers establish several factors including if they are as comfortable as can be expected, if they have had someone informed that they are in police custody and that the cell is clean, well heated and ventilated.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said that custody visiting is an unsung community service.

He added: “The service safeguards both the detainee and the police.

“It’s also a highly responsible and privileged role, in that very few members of the public have access to the custody environment.

“No matter what crime an individual is accused of, our justice system has a clear set of rules regulating how someone should be treated whilst in police custody.

“It is thanks to our dedicated group of Custody Visitors that the public can have the reassurance that the force is upholding the high standards we expect from them.”

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Paul Norton at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on 0121 626 6060.

The closing date for applications is Friday (December 11).