Volunteers Needed To Spend Time Behind Bars
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson
is looking to recruit volunteers to spend time behind bars.
Every week of the year, day and night, a group of people spend
time in police cells across the West Midlands.
However, these people have done nothing wrong; they haven't been
arrested - in fact they volunteer to go there of their own
These are the custody visitors; a team of local people, made up
of a wide range of ages and backgrounds, who ensure that those in
police custody are being treated properly and fairly.
The scheme is running strong, but more volunteers are
particularly required for custody suites in Wolverhampton, Oldbury,
Perry Barr and Coventry. The PCC is kick-starting a recruitment
drive for volunteers to help in those areas.
West Midlands PCC David Jamieson said: "Custody visiting is very
much an unsung community service which 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
"Thanks to our dedicated group of custody visitors, the public
can have the reassurance that the force is upholding the high
standards we expect from them."
The scheme was introduced after the Brixton riots of 1981, with
the aim of increasing public confidence in the police, providing
transparency into what happens in police stations and making sure
that suspects' treatment is appropriate.
To qualify as a custody visitor, volunteers should be over
18-years-old, of good character and have no police or legal links.
They also need to be able to make independent observations and also
have spare time, as volunteers are asked to commit to one visit,
which last about two hours on average, every month.
Once trained, the volunteers - who are unpaid but are able to
claim reasonable expenses for travel, visit police custody suites
unannounced and in pairs.
Each year more than 80 volunteers make over 2,500 visits to
To volunteer to be an Independent Custody Visitor click