West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is looking for people who would like to be put behind bars. But this is not a criminal search – we are looking for independent, community-minded people to volunteer as custody visitors.

Pairs of trained custody visitors make random unannounced visits to custody units in their area. After talking to detainees who accept the offer of a visit and observing the operation of the custody unit a report is completed so that the Police and Crime Commissioner can monitor the scheme.

The scheme provides a check on the conditions under which people are detained in police custody and also provides an independent check on the way police officers and custody assistants carry out their duties. The aim of custody visiting is to promote public reassurance and confidence in policing by ensuring that policing activity is more publicly accessible.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito said: “Custody visitors play a hugely important role in raising standards of custody and the treatment of detainees. We are very grateful to the visitors who currently work with us to ensure that the wellbeing of detainees is monitored, so that issues relating to individuals or the custody environment are addressed appropriately.  We want to see people from all our of diverse communities represented on this scheme, so that they can help us to prioritise the needs of detainees, particularly those who may be vulnerable.”

After attending a one day initial training event visitors are required to conduct a visit in their duty week every six weeks. Visits will last approximately two hours.

Visitors come from all sections of the community. They must be more than 18 years old and reside in the West Midlands. No special skills are required as full training and support is provided.

Custody visitors should, however, be good listeners, non-judgmental and capable of making unbiased observations.

 If you are interested in volunteering please contact Paul Norton on 0121 626 6060 or email p.norton@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

More information about custody visiting is available at : /your-commissioner/custody-visiting

Between 1st April 2014 and 1st September 2014 our independent community representatives have:
• Made 231 unannounced visits to the ten operational custody sites within the West Midlands
• Privately interviewed 831 of the available 1296 detainees present about their detention and treatment whilst at the custody site
• Spent over 170 hours on police premises inspecting custody facilities and meeting detainees

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