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Two custody stalwarts decide it’s ‘time gentlemen please’ and clock off duty after 20 years service

February 25, 2014
DOUBLE ACT: From left, assistant chief constable Julian Blazeby with retiring ICVs Ces Brown and George Beech plus deputy police and myself

DOUBLE ACT: From left, assistant chief constable Julian Blazeby with retiring ICVs Ces Brown and George Beech plus deputy police and myself

TWO unsung heroes have paid their last visit to a police custody suite – almost 20 years after starting their shift.

The pair – 88-year-old George Beech and Ces Brown, 75 – were appointed in March 1996 as Independent Custody Visitors for Staffordshire Police and signed off on the same night at a retirement celebration.

George and Ces – co-ordinators for the Burslem and Hanley panels respectively – were presented with clocks by myself at a special ceremony at Hanley Police Station.

As deputy police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire, I paid tribute to the men’s long service.

On one of my first visits to custody I had the great pleasure of meeting these two outstanding gentlemen.

I was greatly enamoured by their work and was determined to ensure that the service to support the ICVs would be the best it can be. It was their inspirational passion for the job that so engaged me and has continued to do so.

You cannot underestimate their massive contribution over 18 years each of dedicated service. Their commitment has been unquestionable.

ICVs are a volunteer, unsalaried army of helpers appointed by the Office of the Police and Crime commissioner who check on the well-being of people held in custody by the police.

They work in pairs, carrying out inspections and monitoring the welfare of individuals detained in police cells. They are granted access to detainees – at any time of the day or night to make sure custody rules are being observed.

George, who has never missed a scheduled custody visit, felt the time was right to give new volunteers a chance to become ICVs.

He said: “I felt humbled by Sue’s speech and honoured to be involved in such a wonderful organisation for so long. Thank you for the service I’ve been a part of.

“Recently, a young neighbour of mine who had graduated in criminology told me she had applied to become an ICV, but there were no vacancies.

“This really struck a chord with me, that an enthusiastic young graduate could not volunteer in the field she was educated in, while I, after so many years was, in a sense, preventing her becoming involved with such wonderful work.

“In the light of this, and after much profound consideration, I decided to hand over the baton.”

The celebration came as a surprise to Ces, who has spent the majority of his years of service dealing with statistics and checking if ICVs are carrying out their visits.

“I didn’t expect such a celebration,” he said. “It was quite emotional, very nice and greatly appreciated.

“Over the years we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve had some excellent panel members without whom we could not have achieved the success that we have.

“Now, we have some new blood on the panel and I feel that it’s a good time to move on.”

The OPCC has seen to it that new terminals with the National Strategy for Police Information Systems are placed at every custody suite – to enable all tasks can be completed on the computer.

Bg8S69aIUAAJbsKI have initiated new procedures ensuring further efficiencies of the role of ICVs and custody sergeants, saving them around 388 hours – or nearly 50 days – per year.

I so admire the volunteer visitors and the massive contribution you make in general to society and local communities as well.

You provide a crucial link between the community and police and maintain public confidence in the custody system, doing behind the scenes work for Staffordshire police in making unannounced checks on conditions of cells and the welfare of people in custody.

The visitors work to a strict code of conduct and are fully trained before they embark on their special duties.

Anyone interested in joining this unique volunteer army should apply now by calling Jane Milgate 01785 232245 or visit the PCC website at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk or visit YouTube to find out more http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7s-akLN2J8

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