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Published: 02 August 2023

Custody Visiting Annual Report 2022-23

Report Summary

Annual Report detailing the activities of independent custody visiting volunteers checking on the treatment of detainees across Police Scotland's Custody Estate inline with National Preventive Mechanism and OPCAT.


The Scottish Police Authority is responsible for the running and management of Independent Custody Visiting Scotland (ICVS). This scheme is made possible by the dedicated work of approximately 100 volunteers across the length and breadth of Scotland who fulfil the key responsibility of an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV). In fulfilling this role, ICVs ensure that individuals who are held in Police Scotland custody are treated fairly and with integrity, and that their human rights are protected.

The Scottish Police Authority, together with Police Scotland, are committed to the Peelian principles of policing by consent, recognising that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their actions and behaviour. Independent Custody Visiting has these principles at its core, providing oversight to ensure that Police Scotland meets the highest of standards of care for individuals in their custody, but also that custody staff and officers are supported, and their welfare is prioritised. Critically, ICVs monitor to ensure that police custody provision in Scotland upholds the international standards set by the United Nations to prevent torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (OPCAT) of persons in custody.

This 2022-23 Annual Report highlights the activities, insights and independent assurance provided by the ICVS scheme. Over this period, ICVs undertook over 1,000 visits to police custody and spoke to over 1,600 people in custody. The Authority is pleased to report that, of these visits, no issues were identified under the United Nations standards for upholding human rights.

During 2022-23 the Authority continued to invest in improvement of the ICVS service, ensuring that visitors are supported, and that visitor observations drive both improvement in custody provision and public assurance. This year saw the launch of a new reporting template that allows visitors to quickly and easily record their observations while improving data quality. Work is now underway to delivery an ambitious project to digitise this system, further supporting visitors to capture observations in real-time.

The Authority is extremely grateful to the visitors, and our own ICVS team, for their determination and commitment and for continuing to offer the Authority, and the public, assurance that the welfare and rights of people in custody in Scotland continues to be upheld.

Jane Ryder, Vice Chair, Scottish Police Authority

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