Home Rules Legal Matters Prisons › Volunteering to Check the Standards in Prison
Volunteer to Check Standards in Prison

You can volunteer to check the standards in prison by joining one of the Independent Monitoring Boards. This web page explains how to apply to join IMB.

Every prison has an Independent Monitoring Board associated with it. Independent Monitoring Boards check the day-to-day standards of detention centers and prisons. Volunteering to check standards in prison usually occupies 2 or 3 of your days per month. You need an application pack from an Independent Monitoring Board to be a volunteer.

Applying to Join IMB

Contact the Independent Monitoring Board to become a volunteer to check prison standards.

Independent Monitoring Board
Telephone: 020 3334 3265
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Find out about phone call charges.

Note: You do not need to have any specific qualifications because all volunteers get trained.

What Happens Next?

Following your application you will receive an invite to attend a tour of the prison. IMB will then ask you to go for an interview. They may carry out some background checks if your interview is successful. IMB call this a ‘security clearance‘ and the whole process can take up to 3 months.

Independent Monitoring Boards

Independent Monitoring BoardsYou will find an Independent Monitoring Board inside:

  1. Every prison.
  2. Most immigration removal centres.
  3. Some short term holding facilities at airports.

The public volunteer members of IMB are independent. They are unpaid and work several days each month. Their role is monitoring the day-to-day life in a local prison or removal center. That helps to ensure proper standards of care and decency get maintained.

IMB members have unrestricted access to a local prison or immigration detention centre at any time. They can talk to any prisoner or detainee they wish to. The discussion can be out of sight and hearing of any prison members of staff if necessary.

Typical monitoring visits include time spent in the kitchens and workshops. They can also monitor accommodation blocks, recreation areas, healthcare centre and the chaplaincy.

Board members play an important role in dealing with problems inside the establishment. Prisoners or detainees will usually resolve problems through the usual internal channels. But, if that fails they can put in a confidential request to see a member of the IMB.

Problems often include concerns over visits from family or friends, lost property, religious or cultural requirements, and bullying.

What if something serious happens at the establishment like a riot or a death in custody? Representatives of IMB can get called in to observe how a serious situation gets handled.

Volunteer to Check Standards of Prisons in the United Kingdom