In North Yorkshire there are five Independent Custody Visiting panels, in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough, Skipton and York.
Each Independent Custody Visitor is assigned to a panel, depending on the area in which they live or work, and are required to make a minimum of 8 visits per year. Visits can last between half an hour up to 3 hours, depending on how busy the custody suite is at the time of your visit and how many detainees wish to speak with you, and can be made at any time of the day or night, at a time which is convenient for both yourself and your Independent Custody Visitor partner.
Each panel has a co-ordinator, who is responsible for distributing the panel rota on a quarterly basis, monitoring trends of visits, and arranging panel meetings. Each panel has four meetings per year, to meet up with one another and to discuss issues arising and scheme updates. Independent Custody Visitors are required to attend a minimum of two of the four meetings each year.
The demands on Independent Custody Visitors are not too onerous but will require commitment, regular visits to police stations and attendance at panel meetings and training days.
The panel co-ordinators also meet at quarterly meetings, with the Scheme Administrator and Members of the Police Authority. This meeting allows for further feedback from the Independent Custody Visitors directly to the Police Authority and to discuss local arrangements and share best practice.
Under the Police Reform Act 2002, the statutory role of the Police Authority is to establish and maintain an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, for which North Yorkshire has had one for over 20 years.
The day to day administration of the Scheme is undertaken by the Scheme Administrator within the Police Authority's support unit. The Police Authority's Ethics & Standards Board oversees the operation of the Scheme and monitors any service quality issues raised. An Annual Report on Independent Custody Visiting is produced each year.
Independent Custody Visitors play a very important role and the Police Authority is extremely grateful for their continuing involvement and contribution.