Skip to main content

Independent Visiting Schemes

Independent Custody Visiting Scheme

Independent Custody Visitors are members of the public recruited by the Police and Crime Commissioner to visit Custody Suites in north Wales at random to check on the treatment and welfare of people held in custody by the police. It is a statutory duty for the Commissioner to have an Independent Custody Visitors Scheme.

Custody Visitors visit in pairs and arrive unannounced at Custody Suites, they are given immediate access to the custody area. Their job is to speak to the people held in custody and inspect the conditions in which they are being held. At the end of each visit they prepare a report on their findings.

If any issues are raised in the reports, these are resolved straight away by talking to the Custody Officer or if they’re more complicated the matter will be referred immediately to the Custody Inspector. All feedback reports are analysed by the Force and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and discussed at the Independent Custody Visitors Panel meeting which are held every 3 months.

Custody Visitors come from a variety of backgrounds and sections of the community.  They must be over 18, live or work in the force area and have no direct involvement in the criminal justice system.

All work done is on a voluntary basis, and travelling expenses are reimbursed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Annual Review 2022-23

Dog Welfare Visiting Scheme

The joint Police Dog Welfare Scheme in Cheshire and North Wales was set up to check on the welfare of police dogs.

Police Dog Welfare Visitors check on the welfare of all police dogs, particularly in relation to the RSPCA’s ‘Five Freedoms’ attending kennels and training facilities.

The RSPCA believes that anyone responsible for looking after animals should try to give them the five freedoms. The five freedoms are considered aspirational, as they cannot always be achieved and maintained at all times. For example, an animal may need to feel hungry before it will eat. However, animal keepers should always aim to provide the five freedoms to their animals as far as possible.

The five freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst - animals should have access to fresh water all the time and the right type of food to keep them fit.
  • Freedom from discomfort - animals should have the right type of home, including shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease - animals should always be fit and well and should be treated by a vet if they are sick or injured.
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour - animals should have enough space, proper facilities and the company of other animals of their own kind.
  • Freedom from fear or distress - by making sure the animals' conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering.

Why was the Police Dog Welfare Visitor Scheme created?

More than 21 years ago, the death of police dog ‘Acer’ whilst training in Essex, as well as the subsequent prosecution of police officers involved, resulted in an understandable loss of public confidence in relation to police dog training methods.

The Police Dog Welfare Scheme aims to maintain standards and ensure that Cheshire Constabulary’s training procedures are ethical, humane, transparent and accountable. Police Dog Welfare Visitors observe, comment and report on the conditions in which the Constabulary’s dogs are housed, trained and transported.

We currently have a number of experienced and dedicated volunteers who work hard to ensure standards are high and that members of the public are well-serviced.