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Inside every prison there is an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) which is made up of members of the public who are from all walks of life. The IMB monitors day-to-day life in prison to ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained.

Board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice and are the eyes and ears of the public. The role is voluntary, unpaid and a commitment to visiting Eastwood Park (near M5 junction 14) up to three days per month is required. Most visits can be made at a day and time convenient to individual members however attending the monthly board meeting is expected.

Eastwood Park IMB is looking for individuals who are open minded and have good people skills to join the board. Applications will be particularly welcome from members of the community who have Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic heritage. Being an IMB member is a very stimulating role. It is wonderfully rewarding and always interesting. Prisons are little known to the general public and this is an opportunity to ensure that what goes on inside is visible to the outside world.

After a period of training, successful applicants will monitor one of the largest womens prisons in England which covers South Wales, the West Midlands and the South West of England. The board has no role in managing the prison but members arrive unannounced, collect keys at the main gate, go into all areas of the prison unescorted and observe what is going on. Prisoners who feel that the prison service has acted unreasonably can apply to the IMB who then make enquiries about issues raised with responsible officials.

Inevitably there is some paperwork. At the end of each week board members who have visited the prison prepare a report which is submitted to the Governor. Issues raised are then responded to. The board prepares an annual report on the prison which is submitted to the Secretary of State and is subsequently published for all to read.

Arthur Williams, IMB Eastwood Parks Chair said:

“The word ‘prison tends to bring out some very different responses in people. Whatever you feel about the purpose of prisons, most people would agree that they ought to be places which are safe and where prisoners are treated in a decent way and prepared for their eventual release. Prison life, despite the myths is not much fun. It is particularly difficult for women who are separated from their children”.

“The UK is almost unique in allowing members of the public to freely monitor prisons. If this article has sparked your interest please make an application to join us – we look forward to hearing from you”.

Further details and application forms are on line at ‘imb vacancies reference 1282/South West Cluster/2022. No qualifications are necessary other than an open mind and clear thinking. The closing date for applications is the 30th.October 2022.