Thursday, 18 February 2010

Is Prison right for you?

Members are being sought to join the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Leyhill Open Prison.  The IMB acts independently of the Prison Service and their role is to monitor the complete range of activities within the prison to ensure the fair and just treatment of those held in custody.  

Formerly a wartime hospital, HMP Leyhill is the only minimum security prison in the south west of England and has been an important part of the UK Prison Service since 1946.  The prison is capable of holding up to 532 prisoners, 110 of whom are serving life sentences and all of whom are housed not in cells, but in individual rooms in one of three accommodation blocks with open corridors.   

All of the prisoners, who are generally aged 25 and over have been assessed as low risk and many are either serving short term sentences or are nearing the end of their sentence.  Leyhill plays a particularly important role assessing and preparing prisoners for release by providing an environment in which they can assume more responsibility and benefit from opportunities to make decisions for themselves before returning to the outside community. It is in preparing those approaching release, especially those serving life sentences, to return to the community that is the key to Leyhill’s whole ethos.   

A wide range of opportunities are available to the prisoner to help prepare for release, from academic and vocational courses to opportunities to work outside either doing voluntary work or in local organisations who support the hundred or so prisoners who leave the prison daily on licence.  All those not working outside the prison will be either employed in one of the many maintenance or service activities, or be in education. The only exceptions being those out on licence to go on home leave, which is part of the preparation for transition back into society, or those past retirement age.  

It is in this environment which is not exposed to the normal scrutiny of everyday life, that the IMB carry out their duties, acting as the eyes and ears of the community to ensure that fairness and respect is given to those in custody, and that they are treated humanely.  There is no need for a legal background, but just an open and questioning attitude together with an ability to communicate with a wide range of people and a willingness to work as part of a team.  

IMB members enjoy a high level of trust and responsibility and are free to visit anywhere within the prison at any time and without the need to make an appointment.  There is a great deal of communication with staff and prisoners and with an ever changing prison population, the IMB is seeking to recruit younger people, working people and those from ethnic minorities to reflect that population. 

Members of IMB Boards come from all walks of life and although IMB work is voluntary, travel and training expenses are covered. Volunteering involves commitment to two or three days a month on a rota basis, each visit taking several hours and requiring  visits to all parts of the prison.  IMB volunteers, who have to undergo a security clearance process before they can be accepted for the role, are also expected to live reasonably close to the prison, and to attend monthly IMB meetings.  

As part of a drive to recruit additional volunteers to join the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), prospective applicants are being invited to visit HMP Leyhill, meet members of the IMB and experience at first hand what life is like in one of the UK’s busiest open prisons.  Anyone who is interested and would like to know more about what is involved in becoming a member of the IMB are asked to contact the IMB Clerk on 01454 264112 or email Pat.Carpenter@hmps.gsi.gov.uk to make an appointment on either Friday 5th March or Saturday 6th March 2010.

Posted via email from Copper Phoenix's posterous

No comments:

Post a Comment


Marketing services

Developing strategy, practical help, training and more.



About us

Adaptable, analytical and an absolute focus on delivering your goals.



Let us help you

To find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.