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ICVS National Conference 2022

Published : 18/05/2022 14:41:04

This weekend, Independent Custody Visiting Scotland (ICVS) holds its annual National Conference bringing together independent custody volunteers from across the country to discuss their work in relation to the humane and respectful treatment of people detained in police custody suites in Scotland.

The ICVS scheme involves trained volunteers making unannounced visits to police custody suites on behalf of the Scottish Police Authority, to monitor the welfare, conditions and treatment of detainees.

Volunteers visit in pairs, speaking with and observing people in detention, inspecting facilities and checking custody records. Providing an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme is an essential role for the Authority, to support welfare, and report to the public on how Police Scotland are meeting their national and international human rights responsibilities.

As a result of COVID restrictions being lifted, this year will see a return to an in-person Conference where volunteer visitors and key partners will be able to come together in Dundee to discuss the impact of COVID on custody visiting, and plan for the year ahead.

The agenda for the conference, which includes keynote contributions from the SPA, Police Scotland, the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), the Appropriate Adult organisation, and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, is available.

The National Conference will also create the opportunity to consider the future of the scheme highlighting some key opportunities for improvement in the future. These opportunities will include training, guidance and support provided to volunteers and staff; the creation and redesign of a reporting framework and governance arrangements and a look at how the scheme could use technology to help volunteers carry out visits.

Independent custody visitors play a critical role in ensuring people in custody suites are treated fairly, with integrity and that their human rights are protected. The scheme offers independent assurance that Police Scotland is treating detainees with dignity and respect, and that detention in police custody suites in Scotland uphold international standards set by the United Nations to prevent torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees.

On behalf of the Authority, Vice-Chair Jane Ryder recognised the continued commitment of all those involved in the Scheme through these unprecedented times: “We at the SPA are very grateful to the volunteer visitors and our own ICVS team for their resilience, determination, flexibility and commitment, ensuring the Authority continues to receive this invaluable independent assurance in respect of the welfare and rights of detainees. I also warmly welcome the developments planned for the coming year, including planned recruitment of new visitors.”

You can read the ICVS Annual Report for 2020-21 here.