- What made you want to become an ICV?
I initially saw a poster at a local university looking for volunteers from the community. I enjoy helping people and this is my way of giving back to the community. It also gives me an opportunity to learn more about the rights detainee have in custody.
- Why do you think it’s important that ICV schemes have representatives from all sections of the community?
It is crucial to have representatives from all sections of the community as we all bring our knowledge and life experiences to this role. It enables me to share my knowledge for instance that Muslims generally eat halal meat. On one occasion a Muslim detainee with no English was provided an English breakfast meal and did not realise it was not halal. As a result of my concern being raised meals with the halal symbol were introduced to avoid future errors.
- How does your being from a BAME background contribute towards a scheme with effective oversight of police custody?
I bring my life experiences to this role and can be a voice for a detainee of BAME background who does not feel confident to speak to a custody member of staff. In my introduction when I meet a detainee I explain I am independent and a member of the community with nothing to do with the police and want to make sure their rights whilst in custody are met. Often this helps break down the barrier of mistrust which some detainees have and gives me an opportunity to help or escalate any issues.
- What do you enjoy most about being an ICV?
I enjoy making a difference to the detainees lives. Even if it is a simple task such as ensuring they have a hot drink, meal, blanket, access to a prayer mat or book which they may have not received if I hadn’t visited, due to their lack of confidence to ask the custody officers. I enjoy working with extremely inspiring fellow ICV’s who I would never have met in my current circle of friends. Carrying out visits with dedicated and committed ICV’s is an absolute honour as we all give up our free time to make a difference. I work with amazing ICV’s who are extremely supportive and protective when dealing with unexpected incidents which are few.
I am very proud of my role as an ICV and would recommend it to everyone.