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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about policing or the law? You may be able to find the answer here.

Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) were formerly known as lay visitors. To become an ICV you need to apply to your local police and crime commissioner. You need to be aged over 18 and not working for the police service or in the criminal justice system or in any role where a conflict of interest may arise i.e. a solicitor. You also need a good command of the English language (all paperwork in cell areas is written in English). If you are successful you will be given the relevant training for the role. ICVs are volunteers but do get reimbursed for their expenses.

The principal role of the ICV is to visit detained persons in police custody and speak to them about the treatment they are receiving from the police and to check that they have had all their rights and entitlements. The detained person is under no obligation to speak to ICVs, it is purely a personal choice. The ICV can also check that person's custody record with his or her permission.

As they have a general responsibility to check the police are doing their work properly, they can do a check of all areas of the custody suite, ask questions and look at the records relating to the activities in the suite.

For more information on the role of ICV and how to apply see related website.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.