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Passionate about protecting the rights of people who come into police contact? We want to hear from you!

May 24, 2021
Independent Custody Visitors Justin Whitehorn and Janet Hodgson talk to Philip in the cell

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe saw for himself the important role custody visitors play when he volunteered last year to spend a night in the police custody cells at the Leamington Justice Centre.

People who are passionate about protecting the rights and welfare of individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system in Warwickshire are being sought by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Seccombe.

The Commissioner is keen to find volunteers to join either the Appropriate Adults or the Independent Custody Visitors schemes which are run by his office in Warwickshire.

The Appropriate Adults Scheme is being newly introduced by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to support vulnerable adults who come into contact with the police, helping safeguard their interests, rights, entitlements and welfare. It will supplement existing arrangements for adults and the separate scheme which is commissioned by Warwickshire Youth Justice Service to provide support for children and young people aged under 18.

Appropriate adults are volunteers who can be requested to support a vulnerable person throughout some of the important stages they will go through during their stay in custody or during a voluntary interview with the police, including as witnesses or victims of crime. This can include when they first receive their rights and entitlements, when they are interviewed or if they are searched, tested for drugs or DNA samples obtained. It will also include if the person is charged with an offence.

Independent Custody Visitors, meanwhile, play an additional vital role in ensuring the welfare of people in police custody in Warwickshire. Working in pairs, they visit police stations unannounced, talking to detainees and custody staff, before compiling a report on any issues identified during the visit. The information is analysed and any areas for action are highlighted.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “Both of these voluntary roles provide a really important safeguard to the criminal justice system.  Custody visitors are well-established in Warwickshire and provide fully independent eyes and ears to ensure the welfare of detainees is always maintained. We have a good team of volunteers already but there are a number of vacancies I am keen to fill as soon as possible.

“I want to mirror the success of the custody visitors through the establishment of the new Appropriate Adult scheme for vulnerable people over the age of 18. This will build upon existing arrangements but help to provide additional flexibility and resilience into the system.

“It’s important for all concerned in the criminal justice system that vulnerable adults have the support they need to ensure that they understand and can fully engage with the process. This protects those who are accused of crimes from potential miscarriages of justice while also ensuring that victims and witnesses can give their best evidence to investigators and subsequently at court.

“If you are someone who is committed and passionate about the welfare of people when they have interactions with the police, we really want to hear from you.  Volunteering for either of these roles is a really meaningful way you can help to contribute to making Warwickshire safer and more secure for all.”

The OPCC will be holding a special information evening on Microsoft Teams for people interested in volunteering as an Appropriate Adult. It takes place from 6pm to 7pm on Thursday 17 June. To register your interest in joining, please email  abby.simkin@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk.

For more information and details of how to apply to volunteer as an Independent Custody Visitor or Appropriate Adult, visit the Jobs and Opportunities page on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.

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