19:01 Friday 15 February 2013

Plea for volunteers to keep tabs on police cells

Written byROB SMYTH

A ‘WANTED’ notice has been posted for youngsters to boost the ranks of a volunteer army of ‘insiders’ keeping tabs on the conditions of cells and prisoners held in police custody.

The young recruits are being urged to come forward and respond to a Cell Block ‘H’ plea for assistance in East Staffordshire.

The county’s new Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is looking for volunteers who either live or work in the Burton areas to carry out inspections of police custody suites and the suspects detained in them.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) play a vital role in making unannounced checks on conditions of Staffordshire police cells and the welfare of people in custody.

“Our Cell Block ‘H’ plan is a coded message for fresh young troops to help provide a vital service to the community,” said Sue Arnold, Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner (DPCC).

She added: “We want volunteers from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds to give a balance when dealing with detainees. But most importantly we need more representation from our young people in the county.”

The visitors work to a strict code of conduct and are fully trained before they embark on their duties.

They work in pairs and can check police cells - where they are granted access to detainees - at any time of the day or night to make sure custody rules are being observed.

She added: “This is a chance to join a group of unsung heroes of volunteers who provide vital work behind the scenes of Staffordshire police.”

Volunteers, who get travel expenses, are expected to make a minimum number of visits a year and regularly attend panel meetings.

Anyone interested should call Jane Milgate 01785 232245, visit the PCC website at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk or visit YouTube to find out more at www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7s-akLN2J8

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