29/04/2009

Monitors Sought For PSNI Custody Facilities

Volunteers are being sought to fill an important role as NI police custody visitors.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has this week commenced a campaign to recruit a number of these official monitors to join the Board's existing visiting scheme.

The volunteer scheme, which operates throughout Northern Ireland, is designed to monitor how people who are held in police custody are treated.

NI Policing Board Chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea emphasised the importance of the voluntary work they do: "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 visitors and in administering the scheme which is designed to safeguard the rights and entitlements of those in custody," he said.
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Speaking about the operation and unique nature of the Scheme, Lead Member on Custody Visiting Mary McKee said: "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 Policing Board on what they have found in the custody area.

"By their very nature they are independent of the Police Service and work voluntarily," she continued.

Custody visiting is a unique role and means giving 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 and I would encourage people to consider contributing to our policing structures through this role," Ms McKee concluded.

For information email: custodyvisiting@nipolicingboard.org.uk

(BMcC/JM)

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