Elise Pout

Standards and Scrutiny Manager and Scheme Manager for the PCC’s Independent Custody Visitor Scheme Cleveland

Diary of an ICVA Scheme Manager – aged (I’m not telling you that!) Suffice to say I was aware of the Brixton Riots in 1981 which led to the setting up of independent custody visiting schemes.

Scheme Manager, the early years….

I really hadn’t heard of the Custody Visitor Scheme until I came to do the research for the interview for my current role, Standards and Scrutiny Manager.  One line of the Job description said ‘To manage and continuously improve the Independent Custody Visitor Scheme’ as well as a number of other things.

When I started the job I received a red folder and a briefing and then I was let loose. That was when I realised what a wealth of work that goes on to ensure that people’s rights in custody are being met, the unpaid work of the volunteers who give their time up to make their unannounced visits to the custody suites, the work of a scheme manager to ensure that the custody visitors are trained, supported and that their findings are documented and the work that ICVA do to provide support and guidance to managers and to lead, support and represent schemes.

Since my appointment I’ve experienced the following for the first time

  • Been in the custody suite
  • Learnt of ICVA and met Katie and Sherry
  • Taken on the role of Northern Rep on the National Expert Forum – which includes the odd travel to London
  • Pulled together induction training for the Northern Region – which included working on a Saturday for the first time since I had a Saturday job when I was 18 (that’s going back a bit)
  • Attended quarterly meetings with my counterparts in the North – which is a useful ‘counselling’ service where we share good practice, problems and issues and of course biscuits
  • Presented training to volunteers – nerve wracking and a bit out of my comfort zone.
  • Worked with Volunteers
  • Read PACE
  • Attended an ICVA session about Deaths in Custody – something I’d never even considered before I took on the role of scheme manager
  • Trained new sergeants about the role of ICVs
  • Interviewed and recruited volunteers
  • Had my work quality assessed against a framework

In the two years since my appointment, and the handing over of the red folder, I have reviewed all our processes and the Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) has ensured that this has since been taken to another level. I had reservations at first, that the QAF was comparing ‘apples with pears’ and that across the country the support for schemes varied; with people in dedicated roles to provide support to the scheme on a full time or part time basis, to those for whom running the scheme was a small part of their role.

However, despite my initial reservations, its pushed me to make sure that my scheme was going to the best it could be, and in the spirit of 80s game shows, my competitive streak came out and  I found myself ‘going for gold’. I can’t say its been an easy process but I’ve enjoyed working with my counterparts in the Northern and Yorkshire Regions and Sherry’s always been on hand to provide advice (and counselling where necessary). Although while I haven’t had the result yet, I feel, whatever that result may be, that I’m proud of my scheme, the volunteers, the national presence provided by ICVA and all of the organisation that goes into making schemes what they are and that the PCC can be assured that the scheme in Cleveland offers protection to both detainees and the police, and reassurance to the community at large.  It also forms a vital part of the PCC’s monitoring Cleveland Police’s compliance with the requirements of the Human Rights Act in this area.

I have to say I’m looking forward to the next chapter in the book…………….

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