Join us on Thursday April 29th at 5:30pm for a Webinar on
The Failure of the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme
LCCSA Webinar Presentation By John Kendall
Date: Apr 29, 2021
Time: 5:30 PM London
Meeting ID: 961 729 9651
The police are agents of the state, operate with wide discretionary powers, and they should be accountable for what they do. But regulation of police conduct in custody blocks is largely self-regulation. The police say the primary purpose of detention in custody is to make the suspect amenable to investigation. Detainees spend most of the time in isolation and out of public view. Detainees run serious risks in custody, including losing their lives. The little-known statutory Independent Custody Visiting Scheme facilitates unannounced visits by members of the public to police stations. The visitors meet the detainees to check on their welfare, but the visitors do not have the necessary expertise. They are not allowed to liaise with defence solicitors or to follow up complaints. The detainees do not trust the visitors, and the police do not respect the visitors. The power of the police, the structure of the scheme, and official policy, all prevent the visitors from making independent and effective scrutiny. The existence of the visiting scheme obscures the need for effective regulation of police conduct in custody blocks. The radical reforms that are needed to empower the visitors to be effective regulators could be achieved if the truth about custody visiting caught the attention of the UK’s Parliament and of the wider public.
Regulating Police Detention: Voices from behind closed doors, Policy Press 2018.
‘Custody visiting; the watchdog that didn’t bark’ Criminology and Criminal Justice, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1748895820967989
John Kendall is a lawyer. He was a partner in a firm of solicitors in the City of London, and subsequently practised as a mediator. As a retirement project he volunteered as a visitor in the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme. Finding that it was unsatisfactory and not discussed in academic literature, he decided to research the scheme and completed a PhD thesis at the University of Birmingham. His research was published as Regulating Police Detention, Voices from behind closed doors, Policy Press 2018. He is now a Visiting Scholar at Birmingham Law School, continuing to research custody visiting and campaigning for reform of the scheme.