The last few days have been a challenging time with massive change and difficulties. Throughout this time, we have continued to be impressed with the strength and dedication of our colleagues.
We are grateful to the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council, amongst many others, who have worked with us to develop guidance and new ways of working that balance the importance of monitoring with the principle that we will do no harm. Our colleagues in the UKNPM have helped us to understand international requirements and share practice across different detention settings.
The Home Office have sent a clear message to us – they are of the view that both Appropriate Adults and Independent Custody Visitors are essential to the effective running of the criminal justice system and as such can be designated as key workers. Where schemes are continuing to run visits, they can share this message with volunteers conducting their work.
We are also grateful to the excellent scheme managers who have got stuck in, finding new ways of working and have been dedicated to ensuring that monitoring continues. Together, we have managed to:
- Share guidance to all schemes giving background information and helping them to make difficult decisions.
- Share further guidance to all schemes, outlining first steps to continue monitoring in the current context and starting the process of remote monitoring for this particular period.
- Create a community hub for scheme managers, via our members’ forum, where scheme managers are coming together from across the UK to share ideas, innovations and resources.
We are also immensely grateful to independent custody visitors across the UK. Your dedication and flexibility are impressive, and we will need you over the months to come and again once this has passed.
Some independent custody visitors are unable to visit at the moment due to being in high risk groups. Any ICVs who are not able to visit or assist their scheme at the moment may be interested in registering for the NHS Volunteer Responders as a Check In and Chat volunteer where they can assist by providing telephone support to people at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation. We know ICVs are amazing and can contribute.
We know that the police are working hard to match the challenges ahead of them and we also know that this places them under increasing pressure. The work of scheme managers, ICVs and our many partners helps to protect human rights at a time of national emergency. Furthermore, it will help to uncover challenges and successes in custody, developing a national picture that we can share with national partners to help resolve problems.
We are incredibly proud to be working with you on it. Thank you to you all.