MORE than 5,000 people are kept in Dyfed-Powys Police custody every year, and each individual has their own story to tell of how and why they got there. Some may be our most vulnerable neighbours, friends, colleagues and family.
The police is there to provide an organised, experienced and well trained service with the goal of protecting everyone equally under the law. Due process, fairness and humane treatment of detainees is central to an effective and just Criminal Justice System.
By law, all Police and Crime Commissioners must have an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme. Independent Custody Visitors visit police custody suites in pairs, unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees and to ensure that their rights are upheld.
These dedicated volunteers check on the wellbeing of detainees, and provide an independent check on the conditions in which detainees are being held within custody. This gives public reassurance that detained persons are treated appropriately, fairly and respectfully within Dyfed-Powys Police custody.
In 2017/18, a total of 199 unannounced custody visits took place across the Dyfed-Powys Police force area, with 178 detainees visited. Recently, Dafydd Llywelyn shadowed two Custody Visitors during one of their unannounced visits to Aberystwyth Custody Suite. There, he met with John Jones, Chair of the Ceredigion ICV Scheme, and Mandy Walker. Between them, they have over eight years of volunteering experience as Independent Custody Visitors.
Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said:
“Volunteers not only support the police across many different roles, they also play a vital part in assisting me to fulfil my duty. Involving the public, their ideas, experiences and opinions in the oversight and scrutiny of Dyfed-Powys Police is essential, and all volunteers play a crucial part in this process.
“It is important that the public is reassured that vulnerable people are protected and that there is an independent check that police custodies across the Dyfed-Powys area are operating to the highest standard. I am very grateful to Mandy, John and the rest of the team for giving up their time. Their hard work and dedication is hugely valued.”
Discussing his experience, John Jones said: “It is heartening that our findings during visits are acted upon by police management and problems discussed with us. One is certainly made to feel part of the Justice System, and it gives me a sense of purpose and makes me more socially aware.”
There are currently 26 trained. Independent Custody Visitors across the force area, visiting custody suites in Brecon, Newtown, Aberystwyth, Haverfordwest and Ammanford.
New volunteer applications are always welcome, and for further information please visit: http://www.dyfedpowys-pcc.org.uk/en/the-office/volunteer-schemes/independent-custody-visitors/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Caryl Bond on 01267 226440.