Royal seal of approval for Derbyshire’s custody monitoring volunteers
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As part of National Volunteers Week, we’re celebrating as Derbyshire’s custody inspection scheme has received the highest honour for volunteering in the UK.
The Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme, overseen by Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, is the first of its kind in the country to be honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – a year after winning Platinum in the Quality Assurance awards.
The latest award recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Derbyshire’s ICV scheme, which has won praise nationally from the Home Office and the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) and whose model of inspection instigated a national pilot, is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the country to be presented with the prestigious award this year.
Two volunteers from the scheme will now attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year, along with other recipients of this year’s award.
Hardyal Dhindsa said: “Full credit for this award goes to the wonderfully dedicated and passionate volunteers who deliver this service, week in and week out, protecting the welfare and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable members of society. I would also like to thank my own team who manage the service.
“The scheme continues to go from strength to strength, helping to develop and enhance custody inspection across the country and bring greater scrutiny and transparency to a key area of policing. We are proud to be innovators and this award is the icing on the cake for all the hard work that goes on.
“At its heart, the ICV scheme aids change and we are particularly pleased to be delivering improvements nationally. We will not rest on our laurels and will continue to do everything possible to improve still further in the future.
“My thanks and congratulations go to all those who dedicate their time for this service.”
ICVs make unannounced visits to custody facilities to check on the rights, entitlements, well-being and dignity of detainees held in police custody. Their reports, which are shared with the force, are taken very seriously, often providing the springboard for improvements in the provision of custody services. Their visits provide an independent assessment of the way in which custody provision complies with national requirements.
Derbyshire has been at the forefront of a new police custody inspection system evaluating the care and support of vulnerable people including those with mental health or learning difficulties, migrants and children.
The scheme, which involves the retrospective review of custody records and is part of the PCC’s existing Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme, instigated a national pilot involving five other schemes in the UK.
Among a significant list of improvements, the group has ensured child detainees are able to access an Appropriate Adult in custody within a reasonable timeframe, ensured detainees are instructed in the use of cell call bells which are crucial to keep detainees safe and to prevent harm and improvements to the dignity and wellbeing of female detainees, including the offer of menstrual products and a female point of contact during their time in custody.
Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: “I am extremely proud of the volunteers who help to deliver this valuable service. The ICV Scheme has been running in Derbyshire for many years now and it continues to ensure that the welfare and wellbeing of visitors to our custody suites is of high importance.
“This award goes to show that the hard work and dedication of the volunteers really does pay off and we as force are very grateful to everyone that plays a part in the scheme.”
Responding to the award, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, William Tucker said: “I am thrilled that the County has been recognised in this way and to receive five awards in one year is very unusual.
“The work of each of these groups, which is varied, involves a huge voluntary commitment by the members of each group. During our assessment visit we were very impressed by their commitment.”
ICV volunteer Barbara Arrandale said: “The award for our group is such an unexpected honour and I am sure will be received with much pleasure and pride by us all. I volunteer with many organisations because ‘I can’. I have since being a teenager so many years ago.
“I sincerely believe that we get our of life largely what we put in and volunteering is a way of adding value to myself as well as the groups I volunteer into.”
Fellow ICV volunteer Louise Baker added: “Receiving this award in recognition for the hard work, time and effort that goes towards this very much behind the scenes, unglamorous role of volunteering demonstrates that we are valued and appreciated as Independent Custody Visitors.
“The volunteer group are a diverse collection of people who bring huge life experience to the role. We learn from each other, we learn from the excellent training we receive and we learn from the work we do as volunteers.”
Katie Kempen, Chief Executive of the Independent Custody Visiting Association, added: "We are delighted to hear that Derbyshire have been awarded the Queen's Award. We have seen, close up, how dedicated the independent custody visitors are to improving custody and detainee rights. These crucial volunteers have gone above and beyond to monitor detainee treatment and drive improvements to custody. Congratulations to all the volunteers, their scheme managers and to the Police and Crime Commissioner for this recognition of your work."