04/09/2007

NI Policing Board Seeks Custody Visitors

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has launched a campaign to recruit Custody Visitors to join the Board’s Custody Visiting Scheme.

The volunteer scheme, which operates throughout Northern Ireland, is a means of monitoring how people who are held in police custody are treated.

Policing Board Chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea emphasised the importance of the work they do in relation to policing: "Custody visitors carry out a vital role in ensuring public confidence in how the police treat people held in custody. The Policing Board is responsible for the appointment of the Custody Visitors and administrating the scheme, which is designed to safeguard the rights and entitlements of those in custody. By their very nature the Independent Custody Visitors are independent of the Police Service and work voluntarily to visit designated police stations."

Custody Visitors work in teams and make unannounced visits to designated police stations in their area in pairs. They look, listen and report back to the Policing Board on what they have found in the custody area.

Sir Desmond said: "Custody visiting is a fairly unique role; to give up time freely to ensure that those in custody are being treated correctly and are having access to their rights in line with human rights principles is to be applauded. It is important that all members of our community play their part to make sure that we are operating a just and accountable society. We all have a role and I would encourage people to consider contributing to our policing structures. It is also an important additional way that the Policing Board ensures that we all have an effective, efficient and impartial Police Service."

There are currently 60 custody visitors who carry out this volunteering role.

(SB/SP)

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