VOLUNTEERS are being urged to spend time behind bars in Oldbury to make sure people in the police custody suite are being treated properly.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is looking to recruit custody visitors – a team of local people, made up of a wide range of ages and backgrounds, who spend time in police cells voluntarily.

The scheme is running strong, but more volunteers are particularly required for the multi-million pound Bromford Road suite, so the PCC is kick-starting a recruitment drive for volunteers.

Mr Jamieson said: “Custody visiting is very much an unsung community service which safeguards both the detainee and the police.

“It's also a highly responsible and privileged role, in that very few members of the public have access to the custody blocks.

“Thanks to our dedicated group of custody visitors, the public can have the reassurance that the force is upholding the high standards we expect from them.”

The scheme was introduced after the 1981 Brixton riots, with the aim of increasing public confidence in the police, providing transparency into what happens in police stations and making sure that suspects’ treatment is appropriate.

To qualify as a custody visitor, volunteers should be over 18-years-old, of good character and have no police or legal links.

They also need to be able to make independent observations and also have spare time, as volunteers are asked to commit to one visit, which last about two hours on average, every month.

For more information about the scheme, visit http://www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk/your-commissioner/custodyvisiting.

Once trained, the volunteers – who are unpaid, but can claim reasonable expenses for travel – visit police custody suites unannounced and in pairs, with nearly 100 volunteers making more than 2,500 visits to detainees every year.