A: Yes. Many of our members are in full time employment and visit thier establishment 2-3 times per month. The timing of monitoring visits is flexible and can usually be scheduled outside of working hours, although there are some Boards which hold their monthly meetings during the morning or afternoon. You may also very occasionally need to attend training days during working hours, although we try to keep this to a minimum and where possible we offer training outside office hours as well.

Being a member of a prison IMB is recognised as a public duty under the Employment Rights Act 1996, which means your employer is obliged to allow you ‘reasonable’ time off in order to perform your role as a Board member. For further information on this, please contact the IMB Secretariat imb@justice.gov.uk

A. The average is around 2-3 visits per month, although with initial training this may be slightly more. However, this will vary between IMBs, and each individual vacancy notice will specify the average time commitment per month for the individual IMB recruiting. Reasonable adjustments may be possible to support you to carry out IMB duties but this will depend on the needs of the IMB and the individual and discussed on appointment

Each Board meets regularly, once per month, and has an elected Chair and Vice Chair. This meeting is usually within working hours and members do need to attend at least nine meetings a year.

As induction training takes approximately a year before individuals are flying solo existing members feedback that they felt that the time period needed for this role is a minimum of two to three years if at all possible

A: This is an unpaid, voluntary role, but we pay your travel expenses and in certain circumstances, some loss of earnings and childcrae/carer costs.

A: During the first twelve months approximately you will participate in formal training and on the job training by shadowing experienced members of your local board. You will also be allocated a mentor. There are also opportunities for continued professional development.

A: We are committed to recruiting members from all walks of life.

Occasionally there may be a perceived or actual conflict of interest, for example if you have a business involvement in supplying a service to the prison or immigration removal centre, or if you have a close friend or relative inside. However often assurances can be put in place to enable the application to be considered so you should not be put off applying, please follow the guidance provided alongside the application form. Each application will be reviewed on its own merits.

Having a criminal record does not automatically mean that you can not apply. As with a conflict of interest, follow the guidance on the application form to disclose as much information as possible to enable an informed decision can be made. If you have any concerns about a possible conflict or your criminal record please contact the IMB Secretariat by email imb@justice.gov.uk and we would be happy to discuss this with you.

More information is available in the Application Handbook

IMB members have full access to their local prison or immigration removal centre at any time, day or night. For this reason all our members must be security cleared, and this can take some time, depending on the level of clearance required for that particular establishment.

The whole appointments process usually takes around six months, although we try to ensure times are kept to a minimum and keep applicants informed throughout the process. We understand that the wait can be frustrating but hope that you will appreciate why it is necessary.

A: Once you submit your application to become an IMB member you will be invited to attend an interview, which will be conducted by two members of your local board and an independent panel member from another IMB.  The interview panel will write to the Minister, who makes the final decision as to whether or not you should be appointed.

If a former IMB Member wishes to re-join the IMB they can do so but there must be a 3 year gap before applications can be made to rejoin any previous IMB of which they were a member.

A: No.  A Prison Visitor visits inmates who have no other visitors, perhaps because they are far from home or have no close relatives to visit them.  To find out more about this type of work please contact the National Association of Official Prison Visitors

Each immigration removal centre also has a visitors’ group, whose members visit and befriend detainees.  Again this is different to the role of IMB members, who are there to be independent monitors.

We treat other people’s data with great care and only for the length of time that is necessary.

To meet the public appointment requirements all applications are retained for 2 years in the case of unsuccessful applicants and one year past the tenure period for successful candidates.

Our data privacy statement can be found here:

IMB privacy statement (PDF)
IMB privacy statement (Welsh)

A: Please check our current vacancies page for the latest details. If an IMB near you isn’t currently recruiting, please check back regularly or follow IMBs on Linked-in for alerts.

A: The role of an immigration removal centre (IRC) is to hold people detained under immigration legislation.  Most of these are people whose claim for asylum has been refused, and who are awaiting removal from the United Kingdom.  IRCs also house time-served foreign national offenders awaiting deportation. The length of stay ranges from a few hours to several months.  Detainees may have launched an appeal against their removal and be awaiting a court appearance or a decision.

The detainees are not criminals and are allowed as much free association as possible within a relaxed environment.  There can be as many as 45 different nationalities within a centre at any one time. One centre also contains a family unit. A large part of the IMB role in these establishments is ensuring that the services provided meet detainees’ diverse needs.  There are currently seven immigration removal centres in England and one in Scotland.

A: By law every prison and immigration removal centre must have an Independent Monitoring Board.  IMBs in prisons derive their responsibilities from the Prison Act 1952 (Section 6), whereas IMBs in immigration removal centres derive their responsibilities from the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

The principle of independent monitoring of prisons is one that has been around since Tudor times.  IMBs in immigration removal centres were established more recently following an inspection in 1989 of what was then Harmondsworth Detention Centre.