I recently spoke to a remarkable group of people. They were women and men, young and not so young.

Some had jobs, some were students and some were pensioners.

What they had in common was a desire to do some voluntary work that was a bit different and more than a bit interesting.

They were all, in fact, custody visitors.

When people are arrested, they are brought to Barnsley police station near the Town Hall, and to the fairly new custody suite.

Here the necessary processing takes place and they may have to spend some time in a cell, sometimes overnight.

As Police and Crime Commissioner I am required to appoint a team of volunteers to be Independent Custody Visitors.

The visitors divide into teams of two and go to the custody suite at whatever time of the day or evening suits them, to check on the welfare of those who are being detained.

They arrive unannounced and the custody sergeant is obliged to welcome them and facilitate their visit.

They have a checklist of things to go through to make sure that detainees are properly treated and that the facilities are up to scratch.

So, for instance, if a girl or woman is being detained, the custody visitor will want to know whether there are female staff on duty,

If a young person is being kept in, the custody visitor will find out whether their situation is being reviewed every four hours.

Each visit lasts about an hour to an hour and a half and visitors will generally commit to two visits a month, and training is given.

There is one other aspect to the work of the custody visitors – or can be.

If they have an interest in animals they can make similar visits to the places where South Yorkshire police dogs and horses are kept.

The dogs – of many different breeds – are at Niagara in Sheffield, near to Sheffield Wednesday football ground.

The horses are at Ring Farm, Cudworth.

But animals are not for everyone!

Expenses are paid, but it is otherwise voluntary work – and we need a few more volunteers.

If you think you might be interested and would like to know more, please contact my office: thepcc@southyorkshire-pcc, or ring us on 0114 296 4150.

If you did become a custody visitor you would be doing something of real interest that is also of real value to the community.