This week is Volunteers Week and it offered the West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem, the perfect opportunity to send a special message of thanks to all those volunteers who constantly give up their time to help others.

In particular, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner wanted to thank all Independent Custody Visitors and Appropriate Adult volunteers who have helped towards the continuation of the custody visiting and appropriate adult schemes despite the crisis caused by Covid-19. These volunteers give assurance around the safety in custody.

Throughout the lockdown, Custody Visitors and Appropriate Adults have been carrying out essential visits to those detained in custody including those that are considered vulnerable.  Their reports have proven invaluable and has helped to ensure that the PCC is fully informed about the standard of treatment and quality of performance given by West Midlands Police towards those people in custody in the various custody suites around the region.

Normally the OPCC has just under 60 Custody Visitors and 16 Appropriate Adult volunteers that carry out visits. However, despite the fact that the majority of them are self-isolating, socially distanced visits are continuing.

At the same time, telephone visits have been put into operation in Wolverhampton made by volunteers isolating at home. Some volunteers have been helping with virtual visits too.

Pauline White, a Custody Visitor, said:

“Normally we take turns to visit custody centres. I visit Oldbury Custody Suite about three times a year. However, due to lockdown, many of my colleagues are unable to attend and so I and other colleagues have taken on extra visits to fill the gap.

“Our priority is always to ensure the health and welfare of those people in custody. Some may have drug problems, mental health issues or language problems. We try to make sure they fully understand why they are in detention, that they are receiving full access to health care and legal advice as and when required and that everyone has their covid-19 kits. The support from the officers at the detention centre to both for us and the detainees has always been fantastic and they provide the very highest service and work with us to make the system work.

“I have been performing this duty for over seven years and I have always felt a great deal of personal reward. I attend regular panel meetings where our voice is always heard and our recommendations are taken into account. Our sole intention is to make what might be a very difficult environment safe and secure for everyone concerned. By continuing to do this then that has to be the greatest reward of all.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem, said:

“I want to personally thank all the volunteers for undertaking what is a statutory responsibility on behalf of the Police and Crime Commissioner. We listen to what they say and we act on what they say. We are in an unprecedented time with covid-19 and yet these volunteers have continued to visit. Their dedication is a credit to us all and they deserve our sincere thanks and gratitude.”

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