For those who are interested, the Somerset and Avon Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Sue Mountstevens are in need of local people and want them to be a part of the Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) volunteers.
PCC Mountstevens, together with her team, are in need of people who are from Bridgewater and its surrounding areas to be a part of the said group.
The IVC volunteers will be tasked to visit the police stations in the area unannounced so that they can check on the welfare of the people who are under police custody. They do this by talking to detained individuals. They also assure these people by watching CCTV footage and records so that they can ensure the detainees that they are not being cheated on in terms of their rights and entitlements.
If the team ever finds something suspicious, the case will be stated to the attending officer at the moment. However, if they can, ICVs will do their best to speak to someone who’s higher in position.
In each visit, a report is submitted to the PCC so that they can review this. The PCC will then check if there are any reported issues or cases being raised. If so, further clarifications will be asked to the police station and the people involved. Afterwards, if necessary, further actions are done.
In addition, there are quarterly meetings being done by the team. Here, custody visitors will get feedback in terms of the overall handling and the general issues that are being presented in these police stations. In some of these meetings, issues regarding mental health and foreign languages were being raised, which were, luckily, being addressed by the group.
Doing this selfless act by the locals is a rewarding volunteering task that’s not only making detainees feel at ease, but it also makes Bridgewater an overall great town.