It has now been just over a year since I have been the CEO of ICVA, a good time to reflect on the year it has been for ICVA and independent custody visiting more widely I think, and my goodness it has been quite the year for us all!
Firstly, I want to thank Natasha Plummer formally for her time as our Interim Chair. Her support and willingness to take on additional responsibility whilst we recruited to a permanent post holder is deeply appreciated by both myself and the wider board. We welcomed Dame Anne Owers as our new Chair in the Summer, and we are incredibly grateful to have someone with such expertise in monitoring, criminal justice and human rights joining us. Anne has already undertaken two custody visits and we are working closely together on priorities for the forthcoming year.
We also welcomed two new staff members to ICVA this year following a restructure, and appointed Jenna Walop as the Membership Engagement and Training Manager, and Kim Goulden as our Office Manager and Bookkeeper. I am extremely appreciative of their dedication to their roles and providing excellent support to our members.
Here is an overview of key work we have delivered over the past 12 months.
In December last year, we launched the Interim Evaluation Report from a pilot to improve the justification and proportionality on the removal of detainee clothing and the use of anti-rip clothing in Dyfed Powys. The report highlights areas of concern from a review of HMICFRS reports, an overview of the pilot run with Dyfed Powys and a series of recommendations for the College of Policing, Home Office and National Police Chiefs Council.
One year on, and we are planning a final report, highlighting the actions taken in response to the recommendations and some work with other forces which we will be launching in the New Year.
We have undertaken two pieces of work with Sussex OPCC over the last 18 months.
The first of these was following complaints from detainees regarding the brightness of custody lighting during rest periods. Together with Sussex OPCC, ICVA worked with stakeholders to attain changes to the Custody Design Guide for new build custody suites/large scale refurbishments to reduce the lux levels of lighting, achieving a better balance between the ability for the police to monitor detainee risk, and allowing detainees to rest comfortably. This work was then extended to asking forces to review the lighting arrangements in existing suites. ICVA checked in on this work after the changes had gone live and produced a Lux Lighting Impact Report.
The second piece of work has been the establishing of a new referral pathway for women in police custody who may be experiencing menopausal symptoms. Women aged 40 and over should now be offered the opportunity to speak to someone from healthcare about their symptoms; a care plan should be produced for their time in custody, which may include entitlements such as paper fans, additional blankets and washing facilities; and consideration should be given to the persons vulnerability, possibly triggering the appropriate adult safeguard. You can read more on this, and the wider work with the UK National Preventive Mechanism here. ICVA visited Surrey’s custody suites recently, and was extremely impressed by the care for those who may be experiencing perimenopause/menopause symptoms in custody and the wide range of products that will be available to detainees.
Quality Assurance Framework 2 (QAF)
Work from schemes on the QAF has really ramped up over the past 12 months, and I was so happy to be in contact with all of our members, assessing evidence, supporting growth, sharing resources and celebrating achievements in Birmingham in November.
You can read more about the different levels and what goes into attaining the awards in our blog here, but suffice to say it’s been a busy year for schemes and ICVA to complete this second round of awards, so a massive well done to you all and we had a great time at the awards event, it was really lovely to see so many of you there.
There have been many stand out moments for ICVA over the year, too many to recount them all within a reasonable word blog limit (never fear, the annual report will have more) but we have delivered training for ICVs on a theme of ‘Back to Basics’ held a new online event for TACT visitors, run a scheme managers conference and a national conference too!
Next year we will complete work on our 23/24 business plan, engage with PCCs, Mayors and colleagues ahead of the elections, continue delivering a host of member benefits and much, much more.
I have been very indeed lucky to work with a fantastic team and stakeholders in a great year, making real changes for those who are deprived of their liberty in police custody. I am proud of the work we have achieved, excited for the year to come, and I wish you all a restful and happy festive break.