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What makes a good ICV?

Want to find out what it takes to be a good Independent Custody Visitor

All volunteers must be 

  • Aged 18+ 
  • English speaking 
  • Have no involvement in the criminal justice system 
  • UK resident for 3+ years 
  • Currently live or work in Dorset 

Volunteers will also need to posses the following skills:

Good Organisational Skills

Visits always take place in pairs. We provide you with a week during which to carry out your visit, notified well in advance, the day and time of that visit will be negotiated by the pair of visitors. We ask that all visitors are punctual and reliable. We ask visitors to follow a structured procedure during the visit which would require them to be quite methodical in their approach and would need them to comply with our policies, procedures and the relevant legislation. We ask that all visitors attend not only their visits, but four panel meetings a year, at least one training session and undertake an annual review with the Chair of the Panel or the Scheme Manager.  

Independent Custody Visiting is high level volunteering and requires a considerable amount of commitment from volunteers. Good organisational and time management skills can reduce the impact of this work. To see the amount of time committed by an average ICV over a three month period click here


Within custody you will come into contact with sights, sounds and smells that you may not come across in normal everyday life, some detainees may prove more challenging than others. Unshockable would be an accurate description of what we are looking for. ICVs need to be able to tolerate language which would not usually be deemed as acceptable, ie. swearing. Each visitor needs to be confident when dealing with custody staff and detainees alike, that comes with experience and knowledge of the Scheme. 

Good Communication Skills

Visitors need to be assertive, without being aggressive. It is important to remember that ICVs are taking a snapshot of custody at that point in time. We ask visitors to complete a written report at the end of the visit which needs to summarise their findings and the action taken by custody staff.  

On occasions you may come across something that you may be uncomfortable reporting as you may not want to ‘get someone in trouble’.  This is a difficult situation but not reporting something when it is wrong means that the lesson is not learnt and may be repeated and the outcome could be much worse.

Personal Responsibility

We ask that all visitors keep their professional knowledge of custody visiting up to date by attending the training sessions and the Panel meetings. All visitors are independent of the PCC, the detainee and the Police. 

Respect for Diversity

You will come across detainees from all walks of life and will need to communicate with them without being judgemental. We expect visitors to show respect for the opinions, circumstances and feelings of others, no matter what their race, religion, position, background, status or appearance. This includes deatinees, other ICVs, Police and OPCC staff and anyone else they may come into contact with as part of the role. 

Team Work

We regard all our visitors as part of the Custody Visiting Team. We expect everyone to act responsibly and abide by our procedures and conduct themselves professionally. The Panel elects a Chair and Deputy Chair/s from within the team of ICVs, this takes place annually. We expect each visitor to listen to their partner’s opinion and respect them, however, we do accept that visitors may not always agree.    



Confirmation Required