2021 – ICVA’s Chair Reflects


December 15, 2021

  • blogging
  • board of directors
  • police custody

Well, what a year it has been! Independent Custody Visiting, like the rest of the world, has had to continue to respond to challenges brought about by the ever-developing picture regarding Covid-19. ICVA and the schemes we represent have had to continue to adapt to restrictions, health and safety measures and much more whilst still ‘keeping monitoring going’. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the volunteers who have either continued to attend custody throughout the year, those who have adapted to new visiting methods and to those who for a variety of reasons have had to take a pause or move on from their schemes. Independent Custody Visiting only works because of the dedication to detainee rights of these incredible volunteers, and I want to formally record my thanks to you all.

Scheme Managers (employed by Police and Crime Commissioners or Policing bodies) take care of these volunteers, and I would like to offer my sincere thanks to those staff. They have worked incredibly hard with their teams to ensure that detainee rights, wellbeing and entitlements in police custody are still monitored, been creative in their methods and have supported their volunteers in these difficult times, and I thank you for your commitment and resolve.

ICVA has been able to represent schemes on a number of issues this year, including informed consent to remote legal advice, the Joint Interim Interview Protocol for the provision of remote legal advice, highlighting issues with solicitor attendance where they were found, sharing information on arrangements for women in police custody, cleanliness and hygiene in suites and prisoner transport arrangements and the impact on detainees.

We have also produced a new resources page for the volunteers to directly access ICVA-led training on a host of topics and refreshed and updated a raft of resources for our members and their volunteers. I am very proud of the work that the ICVA team have done to support and represent our members throughout the year to assist volunteers in their continuous professional development.

I am also very proud of the work that ICVA has undertaken with the Criminal Justice Alliance to examine monitoring of race and gender in police custody. It is right and proper that ICVA continues to examine its own practices, and those of our members to ensure that any areas of disproportionality are effectively monitored and remedied where found. I welcome the challenges and recommendations of the CJA report which you can read here, and I would encourage you all to read the ICVA anti-racism action plan which will form the bedrock of our response to that. ICVA has work to do in this space, both for ourselves as an organisation and to support members on further work in this area. I look forward to working with schemes and stakeholders on implementing the recommendations.

Internally, ICVA has seen some significant changes this year. Katie Kempen, our previous CEO moved on to a new role earlier in the year, and I want to thank her for all her incredibly hard work over the past six years.

We then welcomed Stacey from South Wales OPCC as Interim COO, to allow Sherry to become our Interim CEO, whilst the selection process took place. I would like to recognise the incredible work done by both over several months, they have really been Team ICVA, and have my utmost respect.

I was delighted to appoint Ashley Bertie as ICVA’s new, permanent CEO, Ashley joined us in September of this year. Many of you will already have met Ashley, and I am excited to work with him, the ICVA board and our members on plans for the forthcoming year including developing ICVA’s business plan for 2022/23 and responding to the Criminal Justice Alliance report.

As a team, we have overhauled ICVA’s membership offer, delivered new and exciting resources for schemes, changed legislation to protect detainee dignity and overseen monitoring across a pandemic.

On behalf of ICVA’s board and officers, I wish you all the very best for the festive season, I hope you and your loved ones have a very happy and safe holiday. I look forward to continuing to work with you all next year.