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PCC Simon Foster thanks the work of the custody suite volunteers at an awards evening at Lloyd House in Birmingham

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, thanked a team of devoted volunteers as he handed out certificates to those who continue to support people detained in custody.

It was a special evening of celebration at Lloyd House, as the PCC spoke about the “essential” work that’s undertaken by custody centre volunteers and appropriate adults, who safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of people detained in custody.

The PCC said: “My volunteer Independent Custody Visitors and Appropriate Adults are essential to building trust and confidence in our custody centres and ensuring that the rights and welfare of detainees are protected at all times.”

Custody visitors dedicate their own time to conduct regular, unannounced visits to West Midlands Police custody sites. They speak directly to detainees, to ensure they are being looked after fairly and that conditions and welfare standards are appropriate. Any issues are identified and then reported back to the scheme manager, at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands.

PCC Simon Foster believes the independent oversight and scrutiny of custody centres, that is undertaken all year round, remains vital to building public trust and confidence in our criminal justice system.

PCC Simon Foster with Custody Suite Volunteer of the Year 2024, Alison Walker
PCC Simon Foster with Custody Suite Volunteer of the Year 2024, Alison Walker

Among the volunteers honoured for their tireless work supporting people in custody was Harjinder Singh, who was congratulated for 25 years’ service. Chris Warne and Elton Stephens were also commended for 22 years’ service respectively.

Elsewhere, Coventry’s independent custody visitors were named Team of the Year, for their outstanding work within custody centres across Coventry, whilst Alison Walker was named Volunteer of the Year, having celebrated 18 years’ service.

The volunteering scheme is supported by the Independent Custody Visitors Association. Chair Dame Anne Owers, said: “Every day, people are arrested and taken into police custody, out of sight of the rest of their community. But, every week, local volunteers visit those hidden places, to check on the fair and humane treatment of those held there, particularly the most vulnerable: children, people with mental health and addiction issues.

“Our volunteers provide independent assurance: recognising and commending good practice as well as pointing out gaps and deficiencies. At a time of increased public concern about policing practice, their work has never been more important and necessary.”

This week (June 3-9) marks Volunteers Week and, if you would like to know more about becoming a custody centre volunteer or an appropriate adult, please contact [email protected]

For more details about volunteering click on our website here.

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